KWEKWE-based ferrochrome producer, Zimasco, has resumed operations at its West Plant, creating about 200 job opportunities, but at a lower scale after switching off one of its two furnaces.
Zimasco took over the plant, which has two furnaces, following the expiry of a five-year lease agreement between the company and South African company, Portnex International, in 2020.
Zimasco has been operating using the East Plant, which also has two furnaces. Zimasco general manager, marketing and administration, Ms Clara Sadomba, confirmed one of the two furnaces at the plant was undergoing start-up operations with full capacity of the furnace expected by year end.
“Furnace 3 is currently undergoing start-up operations, which commenced on 5 November 2021 with the furnace expected to be in full production in December,” she said. “Furnace 4 is scheduled to restart in the new year.”
Once both furnaces are at full production, Ms Sadomba said they expected to double operational smelting capacity at Kwekwe from 70 000 metric tons of ferrochrome to about 140 000 metric tons per annum.
“The restart of Furnaces 3 and 4 at West Plant will increase Zimasco’s ferrochrome output capacity compared to 2021, as these two furnaces will complement the output from the two East plant furnaces currently running,” said Ms Sadomba.
“The restart of West plant has resulted in an additional 194 employees coming on board with a further 58 people set to be employed once furnace 4 restarts.”
The company has also embarked on an expansion programme, which will see the construction of two state-of-the-art furnaces, which are scheduled to be commissioned in the last quarter of 2022 as it seeks to increase production.
Zimasco invested about US$35 million for the construction of a new ferrochrome smelter as it seeks to increase capacity by 40 percent by 2022.
The new furnace plant will have a capacity of 72 000 tons per annum and is expected to raise the production of ferrochrome up to 250 000 tonnes.
According to Ms Sadomba, the project will also include the construction of a sinter plant, which can cater for about 300 000 tonnes per annum.