'Zimphos plant on course'

HARARE – Local fertiliser manufacturer Zimphos’ Msasa sulphuric acid plant is now 25 percent complete amid indications it will come online by first quarter 2018, a junior minister said.

Deputy Industry minister Chiratidzo Mabuwa said the country has invested about $1,8 million in the project to date.

This comes as government recently expressed optimism that Zimbabwe would be able to avoid fertiliser shortages which hit the country during the 2016/17 agricultural season, on the back of re-tooling by local manufacturers.

“The remaining $5 million is currently being utilised to rebuild the sulphuric acid plant at the Zimphos Msasa plant,” Mabuwa told senators last week.

She said the plant was being constructed from a $10 million facility mobilised by the central bank to help ailing local fertiliser manufacturers retool.

“… The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), mobilised resources to avail to local fertiliser firms to enable them to retool and modernise.

“During the last quarter of 2015, Zimphos secured a $10 million loan from the RBZ. Of that amount, $5 million has so far been utilised at Dorowa Mine to buy equipment as well as refurbish the plant.

“As a result of the intervention, Dorowa Mine is now operating at 60 percent capacity utilisation,” the deputy minister said.

Zimphos manufactures superphosphates while Dorowa Minerals produces phosphates for fertiliser production.

Mabuwa also announced that the country’s sole ammonium nitrate producer, Sable Chemicals, has since resumed production in April 2017.

“Currently, 1 500 tonnes of ammonia is in stock and an additional 2 000 tonnes was expected by mid-May.

“This development is expected to lead to a combined ammonium nitrate fertiliser output of about 7 000 tonnes,” Mabuwa said, adding that capacity utilisation at local fertiliser companies has increased from 25 percent to 40 percent.

Government — through the National Social Security Authority — also extended a $20 million facility to local fertiliser companies to drive the retooling process in the sector.

Meanwhile, a Chinese investment company is expected to have set up a fertiliser processing plant in the country by end of August.

The plant — to be undertaken by the China Industrial International Group Zimbabwe — has targeted a fertiliser processing plant with the capacity to produce a combined output of 300 000 tonnes of Compound D and uranium fertilisers.

The $6 million plant will also boost the country’s fertiliser production capacity and plug deficit which is usually plugged through imports.

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