TSINGSHAN Holdings Group Limited, the Chinese firm building a giant steelworks plant in Mvuma, is set to consolidate its investments in Zimbabwe after announcing plans to establish a large lithium concentrate plant in the country.
The group already operates three subsidiaries in Zimbabwe, including Dinson Iron and Steel Company (Disco), which is developing a US$1,5 billion integrated steel plant in Manhize, near Mvuma.
It also owns Afrochine Smelting (Pvt) Limited, which is looking to increase ferrochrome smelting capacity to 500 000 tonnes per annum from 120 000 tonnes, as well as the Hwange-based Dinson Colliery, which produces coal products.
As part of future investments in Zimbabwe, China’s largest steel producer intends to set up a privately funded and owned cement manufacturing plant with an annual production capacity of one million tonnes.
So far, Tsingshan Holding Group’s total investment in the country amounts to US$2 billion.
Disco project director Mr Wilfred Motsi told journalists recently that his organisation was one of the key national strategic assets that would contribute significantly to Zimbabwe’s economic growth and fiscal revenues.
This is in line with the thrust of the 2021-2025 National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), the Government’s economic development blueprint that builds towards the attainment of an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
NDS 1, which will be succeeded by NDS 2, outlines programmes and projects during the period by defining the trajectory and aligning the country’s financial flows with policy priorities, as identified by stakeholders at the national, provincial and local levels.
“You have asked us often about Dinson Group’s intentions for future investment in Zimbabwe.
“To that effect, Disco has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Republic of Zimbabwe to increase its initial carbon steel production target at Manhize from 600 000 tonnes per year to five million tonnes per year, employing over 6 000 people directly and over 30 000 indirectly.
“We will also produce two million tonnes of lithium concentrate per year,” he said.
Lithium production is fast becoming a potential game changer for Zimbabwe’s mining sector and the country at large, as foreign investors have shown commitment towards the exploitation of the mineral.
For example, a US$450 million lithium salt plant with an initial annual production capacity of 30 000 tonnes will be developed by Chinese investors in Mapinga, Mashonaland West province, under the proposed US$13 billion mine-to-energy industrial park.
In September this year, the Government and two Chinese investors – Eagle Canyon International Group Limited and Pacific Goal Investment – signed an MoU paving the way for the establishment of the mine-to-energy industrial park project, which is the first of its kind in Zimbabwe.
The mine-to-energy industrial park – which will also include the construction of two 300MW power stations, a coking plant, a graphite processing plant, a nickel chromium alloy smelter and a nickel sulphate plant – is expected to be operational by 2024.
Lithium is an essential element in the production of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and mobile phones.
In addition, Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe is also developing the US$300 million Arcadia Lithium Mine in Goromonzi, Mashonaland East province.
The company has indicated that the construction of its processing plant is now 80 percent complete, with about 1 700 people already employed.
Other lithium projects taking shape in the country include the US$130 million Sabi Star Lithium Mine in Buhera district, Manicaland province, which is owned by MaxMind Investments, a subsidiary of Eagle Canyon.
In the Matabeleland region, one of the lithium project developers, Premier African Minerals, remains resolute in its bid to meet its 2023 first-quarter production deadline at the Zulu lithium and tantalum project, Insiza district.
Following a recent MoU with the Government, Tsingshan Holdings Group Limited also intends to increase coke battery production at Dinson Colliery to up to five million tonnes per year, from the current 350 000 tonnes.
Broadly, Dinson Colliery’s operations entail coking coal, coal washing, coal tar recovery and coal tar processing, among other activities, and exports high-quality coke to South Africa and Zambia.
Meanwhile, investments by Tsingshan Holdings Group are touted to be among the major projects to spur the US$12 billion mining industry by 2023, as well as drive Zimbabwe towards an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
Key goals of Vision 2030 entail transforming Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income society with per capita gross national income of between US$4 256 and US$13 205 in real terms, and growing employment rates in both the formal and small to medium enterprise sectors.
Further, the Government intends to progressively reduce poverty rates to levels consistent with upper middle-income economies.
Economist Professor Gift Mugano is on record saying, to achieve NDS 1 targets going forward into 2023, “We need macro-economic stability, single-digit inflation and a stable exchange rate. So, what must be done is to bring down inflation by closing the gaps in the money supply.”
The Second Republic, which came into being in November 2017 led by President Mnangagwa, recognises the mining sector as one of the critical pillars to transform the country into an upper middle-income society.
This year, the mining sector is expected to have grown to an US$8 billion industry from US$5,3 billion in 2021 and US$2,7 billion in 2018.
Zimbabwe’s mining sector accounts for 73 percent of foreign direct investment, 83 percent of exports, 19 percent of Government revenues, 2 percent of formal employment and 11 percent of individual incomes. – Sunday Mail