REDCLIFF – ZimCoke says production is expected to commence in earnest at its Redcliff base as the deal between the coke-making firm and government enters its final stages, only awaiting cabinet approval.
Some of the firm’s contractors have already toured the company for assessments and are only waiting for the greenlight from government for it to commence production.
Among the notables of the contractors is Thyssenkrupp AG, a German multinational conglomerate which does industrial engineering and steel production.
Speaking on the sidelines of the tour Wednesday in Kwekwe, ZimCoke consultant Eddie Cross expressed optimism on the consummation of the deal.
“Production is expected to begin in earnest at the plant once we get approval from cabinet,” revealed Cross.
He explained that contractors had begun touring the plant for assessments.
“Our German contractor Thyssenkrupp AG is in the country to tour the plant for assessments. We are only waiting for cabinet approval to kick-start production,” he said.
Cross said the only outstanding issue holding back production was the $225 million debt owed by Ziscosteel to German bank, KFW, which he said was in the final stages of being finalized.
“A debt assumption agreement between KFW and Zimcoke and the ministry of Finance has just been agreed to by the three parties and is currently with the Attorney General and once eth AG has approved it will be systems go
“It has been two years since we started on this. The project delayed by about a year… But I think the Industry minister will take it to cabinet today (Tuesday) or next week,” said Cross.
Speaking of the $133 million deal Cross said the project was expected to produce 500,000 tonnes of coke annually, for both local and export markets.
ZimCoke was commissioned last year by then Industry Minister Mike Bimha but the company has not started operating, leaving it a year behind schedule.
The company is believed to have bought the coke making assets of Ziscosteel, comprising plant, machinery, land and buildings located within the latter’s Redcliff steelworks.
“The agreement to take over the coke division of Ziscosteel was signed over two years ago,” said Cross.
The coking firm is refurbishing the coking plant at a cost of about US$200 million.
In addition, ZimCoke also committed to investing in the struggling National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) for rolling stock to move coke and cola to the tune of about US$17 million.
The company is also committed to invest $25 million in a new gas fired-power plant to produce 25 megawatts of electricity in addition to purring about $50 million into Hwange Colliery to ensure supplies of coal.