Zimasco switches off 4 of its 6 furnaces
Michael Magoronga, [email protected]
Ferrochrome producer, Zimasco has switched off four of its six furnaces at the Kwekwe plant owing to several challenges chief among them high power charges.
The company is operating with two furnaces which were recently refurbished and consume less power.
Those switched off are still to be refurbished and consume more energy.
The company had been operating at 0,8 cents but power utility ZETDC recently increased the tariffs to 10 cents, making it difficult for the company to break even.
Zimasco Chief Operating Officer Mr Namatai Mapfumo confirmed the development to Business Chronicle.
“Current market dynamics, where global Ferrochrome markets have taken a downturn, coupled with the recent increased cost of power, means it makes sense for us to temporarily halt production from our older less efficient furnaces and take the opportunity to carry out essential maintenance on them while negotiations continue towards a more favourable power tariff,” said Mr Mapfumo.
He said the company will continue refurbishing more furnaces to reduce power demand.
“In the meantime, we are running our two upgraded furnaces that came online earlier this year, which are more power efficient and environmentally friendly in line with our continued thrust to move towards our ESG goals.
“Furthermore, and in line with our long-term strategy of continued responsible value addition, our expansion project of the construction of two modern fully closed 19.8MVA furnaces remains on course with the first new furnace expected to be completed at the end of next month, while the second furnace should be completed at the end of January 2024,” he said.
He said various stakeholders are in talks to find a long-lasting solution.
“Given the current power cost, coupled with a depressed global market, the switching on and commissioning of these furnaces is subject to finalisation of the ongoing power tariff negotiations,” said Mr Mapfumo.
The development brings to the fore the need to formulate a special tariff for chrome producers who consume a lot of power for production.