REDCLIFF-based chemical producing company ZIMCHEM is targeting increased production from the current 10 percent to around 50 percent as it finalizes refurbishment of its two refinery plants.
The state-owned entity is in the process of finalizing a deal to get funding to resuscitate its crude tar plant and reopen its benzol plant after the government placed it under the 8th 100-day cycle projects.
The entity which is reeling from a legacy debt emanating from its idle sister company ZISCO steel is now pinning hopes on government intervention with huge returns expected once refurbishment is done.
“We are happy that negotiations to the release of funding are now in the hands of the treasury. What this means is that we will be able to increase our tar production levels from the current 25 percent to around 65 percent. On benzol, we had completely stopped operations and we expect the plant to be up and running again.
“This means our capacity utilization will jump to around 50 percent. We already have export markets who are demanding our products. On average we will be able to rack in at least 500 thousand US dollars in forex earnings apart from import substitution where our products will be used in emergency road rehabilitation exercise,” said ZIMCHEM acting director, Tendai Shoko.
The government says it will continue to capacitate the ailing firm in line with the re-industrialization drive.
“There is no doubt that refurbishment of the production plant will boost production and impact positively on the national program of road rehabilitation. It is however regrettable that most of the chemicals that are being used in the maintenance and rehabilitation of our roads are imported, mostly from South Africa.
“It is therefore imperative that ZIMCHEM should be capacitated to manufacture these chemicals so that we do not rely on imports. Such a deliberative move by the government will inevitably lead to a reduction of costs of maintenance, rehabilitation, and construction of our road network,” said Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes, Dr. Joram Gumbo.
The shutting down of ZISCO steel’s Zimcoke has made it difficult for the chemical producing company to get back on its feet as it was getting most of its crude ore from the firm.
However, the coming on board of four independent producers based in Hwange has given the company a huge sigh of relief.