KWEKWE – Zimbabwe Mining and Smelting Company (Zimasco), the country’s biggest ferrochrome producer with an output of 180 000 tonnes per annum has switched off four of its six furnaces at the Kwekwe plant due to increased cost of power and declining prices on the world market.
Heavy industrial companies in Zimbabwe continue to be dogged by a plethora of problems exacerbated by complications of an economy on a tailspin.
Zimasco which employs over 500 workers shut down the furnaces two weeks back and has since been operating with two that were recently refurbished and are power efficient, said Chief Operations Officer Namatai Mapfumo in an interview with The Mirror.
He said the situation shows a need for special power tariffs for the ferrochrome industry. However, the special tariffs are being sought at a time when the country is on 20-hour load shedding because of low water volumes in Kariba and problems faced at Hwange Power Station.
The price of ferrochrome fell between August and September on the world market while the price electricity rose.
Zimasco is negotiating with the Zesa for a lasting solution to the challenges.
Zimasco is a unit of China’s Sinosteel, and exports ferrochrome to Europe and Asia.
“We have temporarily closed four of our six furnaces and in the meantime we run on two. The move was necessitated by increased cost of electricity over cost of the product in the international market where ferrochrome prices have declined.
“We will use this time to carry out important maintenance on the four furnaces while we negotiate with the national power utility for favorable power tariffs. Given the current power cost, coupled with a depressed global market we found it prudent to switch off the four furnaces,” he said.
Last year, Zimasco closed its Eastern plant because of high power tariffs leaving the Western plant running Sinosteel’s mining unit in a compromised situation.
Ferrochrome is an alloy used in the production of stainless steel.
Source: Masvingo Mirror