HomeBusiness DigestInvestors flood coking sector…output seen breaching one million tonnes a year

Investors flood coking sector…output seen breaching one million tonnes a year

FREEMAN MAKOPA
ZIMBABWE’S coke output is set to rebound by big margins in the coming year as fresh throughput flows out of newly established processing facilities, Mines minister Winston Chitando recently told the Zimbabwe Independent.

Multinational corporations, led by big Chinese investors, have been scouring Zimbabwe’s richest coalfields in the past few years to establish mines and coking coal processing facilities in response to rising demand.

Chinese firms see big opportunities for exporting high quality coke to China’s blossoming industries.

Several coke oven batteries are nearing completion, but the game changing project involves a one million-tonne-a-year facility by Chinese investors, which is expected to kick off production soon.

It will make Zimbabwe the biggest African coking coal producer.

First quarter output data has been encouraging, showing cumulative coke output rising to 71 400 tonnes, compared to 46 462 tonnes during the same period last year.

In an interview hosted by the Zimbabwe Independent on Alpha Media Holdings’ Heart & Soul Television, Chitando said new investments would give Zimbabwe impetus to ramp up output.

“In 2017 the established capacity of coke production was less than 200 000 tonnes a year,” Chitando told the Independent. “We now have the coke battery by Ting Shung (a Chinese firm) with 150 000 tonnes capacity, which was commissioned this year and another 170 000 tonnes being commissioned next year. We will then have another one million tonnes (capacity facility), which will be the biggest one in Africa being constructed as the beneficiation (of Zimbabwe’s minerals) is taking place.”

All the projects are taking shape around Hwange.

The country’s value addition strategy got a boost this year when Dinson Colliery Company successfully kicked off coking coal production at its Hwange operation.

The company, which is a subsidiary of Chinese outfit, Tsingshan Holding Group, announced plans to produce about 400 tonnes of coke per day in the near future in order to meet both local and regional demand.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed coal producer, Hwange Colliery Limited is also resuscitating its coke oven plant to scale up production.

The firm said in its financial statement for the half-year ended June 30, 2021 that focus would be on ramping up production and sales of high-value coking coal.

Coking coal sales increased by 28,6% from 41 053 tonnes during the  half-year period ended June 30, 2020, to 52 793 tonnes during the same period in 2021.

However, operations were affected by washing capacity constraints.

The company has also invited bidders to tender for the full rebuild of its oldest coke oven battery, which was shut down in 2014.

In 2019, then Industry and Commerce minister, Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu, commissioned the US$255 million ZimCoke (Private) Limited plant at Redcliff, which is set to revive the coke and coking coal industry.

ZimCoke took over a coke oven facility within the defunct Ziscosteel in a US$133 million deal viewed as the first step towards the revival of the steel giant.

The two companies signed an agreement of sale in 2017 where ZimCoke bought the coke-making assets of Zisco consisting of the plant and machinery, land and buildings and associated coal handling infrastructure and wagons.

Chitando said apart from coke oven batteries, there had been significant interest in investments into copper processing in Mashonaland West.

International demand for copper has been rebounding in the past decade, and prices have been robust.

No big investments have been announced into the sector compared to investments into metals like platinum and lithium.

But interest has been rising, and the government has been looking forward to the resuscitation of several mines mothballed in the mid-1990s, when copper prices plummeted.

“We have the greater Chinhoyi copper development programme where we will see the resuscitation of copper production and also the construction of a copper refinery,” Chitando said. “We have value addition in most of the minerals.”

The minister also revealed that five new black granite processing plants will be running by next year.

“Well, we have mineral-specific beneficiation policies and I touched on platinum. In other minerals we have a lot of beneficiation, such as in black granite. We also banned the exportation of black granite and right now as we talk we have over five new black granite processing plants which are being established in the country. They will be running at the end of next year.”

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading