China steel giant Tsingshan wants more Zimbabwe production, updates investment plan

Zimbabwe mining tsingshan
Tsingshan's Afrochine chrome smelter at Selous

China’s Tsingshan Global Holdings, the world’s number one producer of stainless steel, wants more out of Zimbabwe than it initially planned.

The company signed an MoU with Zimbabwe in June 2018 for the construction of a US$1 billion steel plant at Mvuma. After months of further exploration, and having been given access to grants of coal, nickel and lithium, the company has increased its appetite for Zimbabwe’s resources and signed a revised outline agreement upgrading its investment plans.

At a press conference attended by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday, Mines Minister Winston Chitando and Tsingshan officials said the Chinese company would now expand its production targets.

“The MoU signed today expands the scope of the original MoU; the initial MoU was targeted at production of ferrochrome specific for consumption in Mvuma which is about 550 000 tonnes, but at the moment it (revised MoU) is targeting production of one million, which is consumption at Mvuma and some for export,” Chitando said.

Tsingshan will also increase production targets for coking coal, to supply not just the planned Mvuma facility, but to also feed its operations abroad.

The government of Zimbabwe, Chitando said, had honoured commitments under the 2018 MoU to give Tsingshan access to coal, nickel and iron ore resources. In turn, Tshingshan’s local arm, Afrochine, has expanded ferrochrome output to 100 000 tonnes at its Selous plant, started resource evaluation at a special coal grant in Hwange and while nickel concession grants have been concluded.

The resources will see Tsingshan feed its planned Mvuma plant, which would have capacity for one million tonnes of carbon steel and another one million tonnes of stainless steel. Tsinghsan will also begin research into the production of chemicals from its coking plant.

The MoU provides for the construction of a 600MW power plant, with the first phase of 300MW supposed to begin immediately.

Tsinghsan is also getting lithium concessions for value addition. “They are also in the nickel battery space in Indonesia,” Chitando said.

If successful, Tsingshan would be only the second company in Zimbabwe, after Prospect Resources, to process carbonates for the battery market.

There are also talks for Tsingshan to partner other investors to assess the viability of upgrading of the rail line to the port, or constructing a new line. The company would also consider building a dedicated port to handle production which will be coming from the various operations in Zimbabwe.

Tsingshan chairman Xiang Guangda told Mnangagwa that his company planned to build an industrial park in Zimbabwe, similar to the Morowali Industrial Park that it runs in Indonesia.