Chrome Smelters in Zimbabwe

by / Friday, 15 March 2019 / Published in Latest News, News

Zimbabwe has a total of 14 chrome smelters namely Afrochrine, Maranatha, Zimasco , Oliken, Niarchos, ZimAlloys, Jin An, Almid, Wel Mining, Nelson Holdings  Xin Yu, Golden Horizon, Jin Yi Enterprises and Trove Smelter. These smelters have a combined installed capacity of 320,000MT per annum. However, in 2018, a total of 290,092MT was exported owing to a number of challenges. Afrochine emerged as the biggest exporter of high carbon ferrochrome (HCFC) have sold 90 740MT followed by Zimasco with 80 450MT. Zimasco produces HCFC with an average chrome content between 57% and 60% while Afrochine’s product has an average chromium (Cr) content of 54%. Another strong contender with high output was Niarchos (55 660MT averaging 54 – 56% Cr). 

The high electricity tariff impacts negatively on the operations of local smelters and it is yet to be established if any has made arrangements for alternative sources of power. Furthermore, the current foreign currency retention scheme is said to be encumbering operations and hindering expansion projects. Moreover, some smelters are failing to produce at full capacity due difficulties in sourcing raw materials from third party contractors, who are mainly exporting their product raw.

Currently there are a number of projects being undertaken by various producers in this sector. If all goes according to plan, it is anticipated that there will be an additional 100,000MT in installed capacity, producing both HCFC and low carbon ferrochrome. Given that over 900,000MT of raw chrome was exported in 2018, there is scope for expansion and growth in the HCFC sector and therefore the need limit the export of raw chrome.

 

Zimbabwe has all the minerals required for the production of stainless steel. The challenge therefore is for industry to collaborate with institutions of higher learning to develop low cost and more efficient technologies for smelting chrome. It is also imperative that efficient technologies for stainless steel production be developed locally. This will construct the critical industry foundations that will be the backbone for the resuscitation of Zimbabwe’s industry. Consequently, this will go a long way in contributing towards achievement of sustainable national industrialisation and economic development in line with the nation’s vision 2030.

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