New US$43,8m iron ore  processing plant for Redcliff BPISC engineers and executives tour the proposed site of the iron ore company in Redcliff

Patrick Chitumba/Johnsias Mutonhori, Midlands Bureau

 BER-PIG Iron and Steel Company (BPISC) is injecting US$43,8 million to set up a new iron ore processing plant on a 500-hectare plot in Redcliff Town, Midlands province.

The new establishment will be run by a local consortium, Berhard Development Corporation (Private) Ltd, and together with the US$1,5 billion Dinson Iron and Steel project in Manhize, will help Zimbabwe decrease its import of pig iron and steel products, promoting self-sufficiency and bolstering the nation’s industrial sector.

The move is expected to create over 1 000 direct jobs in core positions and contract labour, while creating around 5 000 indirect job opportunities through local businesses and supply chains. The investment is set to increase to approximately US$520 million in the long term, and the new processing plant will have 10 blast furnaces with a combined annual  production capacity of 870 000 tonnes of pig iron. 

The establishment of the new plant is aimed at reviving Redcliff town, one of Zimbabwe’s most significant steel and iron production hubs, which went into decline following the closure of the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco) in 2008. 

BPISC plans to ignite the industry to restore the town to its previous glory. BPISC is collaborating with the University of Zimbabwe to leverage its research and development expertise, while Chinese-based company, Hanfa Group, will provide the blast furnaces and assist in the plant’s installation, chief executive officer, Mr Bernard Mutanga, said in an interview on the sidelines of a recent NDS1 Expo in Kwekwe.

He said the plant will be established in four phases to ensure controlled growth and risk management, with the first phase expected to start production in August, producing pig iron of up to 240 tonnes per day. Full production is expected to be reached within three years.

He said their teams were already on the ground doing preliminary work while awaiting the shipment of components to establish the 10 blast furnaces from China.

“Our team, together with University of Zimbabwe experts, are already on the ground doing all the preparation work necessary for the installation of 10 blast furnaces. We anticipate to start production very soon, and the latest possible time might be August,” he said.

He said the first phase will take an estimated six to eight months.

“The Blast furnaces will be state-of-the-art, designed compatibly to enhance efficiency, effectiveness and environmentally friendly.

“These modern blast furnaces are equipped with hot blast stoves, belles’ tops and pulverised coal injection, including O2 enrichment,” said Mr Mutanga.

He said the sintering machines, with a capacity of 1,2 million metric tonnes annually, will be installed as they seek to improve the productivity of the blast furnaces, lower the coke rate and allow the usage of low iron-bearing material and low-value coke breeze in production.

Mr Mutanga further indicated that the blast furnaces will also come with a waste heat recovery coke plant of 0.6 metric tonnes per year and a power plant of approximately 60MW based on the waste heat of the coke plant and blast furnace gas to be supplied by Chinese company, Hangzhou Azbel Technology.

He said the company has already secured sources of raw materials, including a deal with Zisco for iron ore and iron ore fines limestones.

“The pig iron will be produced from iron ore, limestone and coal and agreements have already been signed to secure iron ore fines from Zisco, Buchwa Mining Company, and other sources in Beitbridge, Mt Darwin and Macheke,” said Mr Mutanga.

He declared that the company’s operations will boost the Government’s NDS1 targets and drive actualisation of the Second Republic’s vision to attain an upper-middle income economy by 2030.

“We have embraced the NDS1 with fervour, echoing its dedication to responsible and sustainable growth. We are also poised to actualise the Second Republic’s vision by focusing on producing pig iron from essential resources like iron ore, limestone and coal.

“Bernhard stands out for its commitment to innovation, environmental consciousness and economic development.

“We are committed to contributing significantly to the nation’s industrial landscape, fostering progress and prosperity in alignment with the national agenda, which enables Zimbabwe to transform into an upper-middle income economy by 2030.”

He reiterated the need to embrace mineral value addition as a critical step for Zimbabwe as it promotes economic diversification and job creation. 

Adding value to raw minerals, he said, will lead to the development of downstream industries in the country, generating employment opportunities for Zimbabweans.

“This creates a positive impact by reducing unemployment, alleviating poverty and contributing to the overall economic growth of the nation,” he said.



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