Chinese miner to set up a fertiliser plant in Hwange

BY TAURAI MANGUDHLA

CHINESE-owned Dinson Colliery (Dinson) is gearing for a massive fertiliser production plant in the resort area of Hwange to augment the country’s supply of the critical farming input, businessdigest has learnt.

This comes as Industry minister Sekai Nzenza recently told businessdigest in an interview that fertiliser production was among priority deliverables under her ministry.

Dinson is a subsidiary of Chinese global investor Tsingshan Holding group and is sister company to Zimbabwe’s largest ferrochrome producer Afrochine Smelting.

After successfully commencing production at its 200 000-tonne-per-annum coke production plant earlier this month under phase one of its strategic implementation plan, the company is moving into phase two where a plant with the same capacity will be installed. At current prices averaging US$200 per tonne, the plant produces US$40 million worth of coke annually.

At phase three, a one-million-tonne-per-annum plant will be constructed and produce US$200 million worth of coke annually, but fears are rife raw material supplies will not be adequate to supply the massive plant given that Dinson is yet to start its own production of coal. In terms of investment, the company has invested US$30 million and at phase two it will pour in another US$30 million which puts the total investment at US$60 million.

Phase three will be five times the size of the current plant.

Administration manager Steven Xing told businessdigest during a tour of the company’s operations in Hwange last week that currently the company is getting raw materials from coal producers in the area, mainly Hwange Colliery and Zambezi Gas.

“We are not mining anything yet; we only produce here at the plant and we are buying coal,” he said, adding that no work has been done on the company’s mining concessions which have been subject to debate on grounds some of them are located in a game park,” Steven said.

“We are yet to even complete the environmental impact assessment which then informs us whether or not to mine; so I don’t understand why people are peddling lies that we have been mining in a national park. We follow all due processes and environmental assessment is one of them, which we have to go through and all factors must be considered.”

Dinson currently employs 350 locals and plans to increase its staff complement at completion of its expansion project.

The company is operating at 60% capacity after three weeks of operations and is exporting to South Africa and Zambia.

The plant construction started in July 2019.

Production at Dinson started about a month ahead of the planned visit by Tsingshan chairman Xiang Guangda in July.

Xiang is expected to visit the Hwange project as well as Afrochine’s smelting plant in Selous and be part of a groundbreaking ceremony at Afrochine’s steel production site in Chivhu.

In May, Afrochine secured exclusive rights to establish an integrated chrome mining and processing operation in Chivhu, giving Zimbabwe fresh impetus to achieve an ambitious plan to attain a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023.

Afrochine, which has a huge presence on Zimbabwe’s chrome fields, said the operation would sit on 2 000 hectares of land.

This will comprise a 1,5-km long and 600-metre wide processing plant and mines. Altogether the operation will turn over at least US$1,5 billion per annum.

During a tour of the proposed site of the giant operation, Afrochine said it was determined to roll out a ferrochrome facility three times the size of Midlands-based Zimasco, Zimbabwe’s biggest chrome processor.

Mines minister Winston Chitando said the government had mobilised key state agencies to work around the clock for the project to be delivered timeously.

“The idea is to have an area of about 2 000 hectares where a number of things will happen,” Chitando said during the tour.

“The first is the carbon steel plant, which is about one-and-half km; next to it will be a ferrochrome plant which will generate 500 000 tonnes of ferrochrome. Those who know Zimasco know that it does around 150 000 tonnes. So this will be three times the size of Zimasco. Then there is an iron ore mine and iron ore plant. The total turnover of this whole project will be US$1,5 billion, bigger than Zimplats and any other project you can think of. That is really the grand plan.”

Afrochine managing director Benson Xu said discussions were underway to establish a dedicated power supply line and railway line for the project. The construction of a dam in the area is also under consideration.