De­mand for lo­cal steel prod­ucts soars

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Oliver Kazunga

UN­DER pres­sure to meet grow­ing do­mes­tic de­mand, Red­cliff-based Steel­mak­ers Zim­babwe says it is work­ing hard to boost pro­duc­tion.

Man­age­ment say the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Statu­tory In­stru­ment 64 of 2016, which re­moves sev­eral goods in­clud­ing steel prod­ucts from the Open Gen­eral Im­port Li­cence, has re­vi­talised the com­pany’s for­tunes.

The le­gal frame­work was pro­mul­gated by the Gov­ern­ment in June to con­trol cheap im­ports flood­ing the coun­try.

In an in­ter­view, Steel­mak­ers Zim­babwe op­er­a­tions man­ager Mr Upen­dra Alamwar said fol­low­ing the pro­mul­ga­tion of SI 64/2016, there has been more de­mand for lo­cally man­u­fac­tured steel prod­ucts.

“Any pol­icy that pro­motes pro­duc­tion of lo­cal prod­ucts is wel­come. SI 64/2016 has helped us in the steel in­dus­try as it has cre­ated more de­mand for steel prod­ucts.

“Since the pro­mul­ga­tion of the statu­tory in­stru­ment, we have seen a shift in de­mand which now re­quires us to in­crease pro­duc­tion to match with de­mand,” he said.

Steel­mak­ers man­u­fac­tures close to 36 000 tonnes of steel per an­num that is con­verted into var­i­ous shapes and sizes to cater for var­i­ous sec­tors that in­clude en­gi­neer­ing, agri­cul­ture, min­ing, con­struc­tion and man­u­fac­tur­ing.

The firm ex­ports to Zam­bia, Malawi and Mozam­bique.

In 2008, the Gov­ern­ment banned the ex­port of scrap metal to com­pel con­tin­ued pro­duc­tion of lo­cally pro­duced steel.

Mr Alamwar said the steel pro­ducer had also re­sumed steel ex­ports to re­gional coun­tries.

The ex­ports were sus­pended at the be­gin­ning of the year ow­ing to the firm­ing US dol­lar against re­gional cur­ren­cies.

The steel man­u­fac­turer says it has also be­gun fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies to in­tro­duce new tech­nol­ogy at its sponge iron plant in Masvingo.

About $155 mil­lion would be set aside for the in­vest­ment, which is ex­pected to im­prove out­put ten­fold from the cur­rent 30 000 tonnes of sponge iron per an­num to 300 000 tonnes.

The pro­ject would be fi­nanced through long-term bor­row­ings and eq­uity part­ner­ships.

It is hoped that the new tech­nol­ogy will see the sponge iron fur­ther be­ing con­verted to steel bil­lets while hot bil­lets will be charged di­rectly to the mills for con­ver­sion to de­formed bars and other sec­tions. — @okazunga

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