PROGRESS on the first phase of construction of a coking plant by a Chinese company in Hwange is now on course with 70 percent completion after Government facilitated the expatriation of skilled labour.
Work on most capital projects in the country had stalled following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic which forced Governments to impose national lockdowns to contain the spread of the disease resulting in expatriates who had gone to China for holidays being locked out.
The coking plant owned by Afrochine’s Dinson Colliery is a US$30 million project at Mpongola in Lukosi area in Hwange. Once completed the plant will be able to churn out 300 000 tonnes of coke per annum as well as 10 000 tonnes of coking tar.
Briefing the Minister of Mines and Mining Development Winston Chitando on Thursday, Afrochine general manager Mr Chen Weinglin said progress was continuing well with the first phase expected to be commissioned between March and April 2021.
“We have made a lot of progress on the ground particularly after managing to get experts from China with support from Government. Now the experts are working on the ground to facilitate the installation of the plant. We are targeting to commission the plant by March-April next year. We would like to thank Government for their support in expediting their return,” said Mr Chen.
He said the company supported the Government’s stance that no mining activities should be done at national parks.
“Recently we heard reports that there is a directive from Government that people are not allowed to mine inside the (Hwange) national park. As a company we are very supportive of this initiative and we would like to work hand in hand with the ministry to explore other opportunities in Hwange in terms of securing the raw materials supply for the plant.
In the meantime, we are also working on the concession. We want to make sure there is constant and stable supply of the material for the operations before the start because we need to ensure that there is enough coal stockpile before we commission the plant otherwise switching it off would damage the coke oven battery.”
Minister Chitando said he was pleased with progress, adding that the project was critical in the attainment of the US$12 billion mining industry through its unique integrated technology.
“I came here to assess progress being made in projects in the Hwange area as you are aware the President visited a number of projects in July and I am very pleased that since the visit there has been significant progress in these projects which are all towards attainment of the 2030 Vision and US$12 billion milestone by 2025.
The phase one coke works project by Tiangi will produce 150 000 tonnes of coke and due for completion early next year and due for commissioning in March-April 2021. This project is very critical for us like all others because brick by brick we will be moving towards the $12 billion milestone. We are very happy as Government to see the progress being made here,” said Minister Chitando.
He added that the configuration of the project was such that it would be integrated to feed a ferrochrome and iron ore project by the same company.
“It’s 70 percent complete and this project sits on 30 hectares of land earmarked for two phases. Upon completion of phase one immediately the second phase will begin concurrently with construction of the steel works in Mvuma. This is an integrated project where in Mvuma we will have the mining of the iron ore which will be fed into the steel works which will commence production next year.
The ingredients into the steel works will be iron ore which will be mined in the vicinity of Mvuma, the coke from here will be shipped to Mvuma and ferrochrome from Selous so it’s an integrated project which is in the making. We are pleased to see the project being made. They have sources of coal which are being finalised but most importantly the project is well on course and we are pleased about that as Government.”
Minister Chitando said the Government was engaging stakeholders to ensure constant supply of coal to support the coking plant.