Rapid progress at steel plant site

Review and Mail Writer

Work at the Dinson Iron and Steel Company (Disco) is underway and the project is taking shape. The project is going to transform Mvuma and surrounding areas for a new town in the area already tabled with the blueprint waiting approval.

When completed, the project is set to become the largest steel plant in Southern Africa with an expected annual turnover of US$1,5 billion from the processing plant and iron ore mining.

The plant will make Zimbabwe one of the biggest steel producers in the world.

Below is a full interview between the Review and Mail and Disco.

RM: You had a tour of the site, what is the update on what you have done on the ground so far?

Mr Motsi: Let me start by saying we finally got the EIA for the power line and the bridge. We are now doing put-ins for the workshops and some of the material to be used for the construction is now on the ground, they have also dug the foundations for the first blast furnace for the iron steel.

RM: How big will be this blast furnace?

Mr Motsi: The first one has a capacity of 600 000 tonnes output per year. Also during our discussions, we had people from the ministry of health who want to build a clinic or a hospital and we are building for them.

RM: Is it at the site or within the vicinity of the site?

Mr Motsi: We asked them to build within the site but the hospital will be built in a land that we were given just across Munyati river where there is going to be a new town. The police were also there and they are going to have a well fledged police station basing this on the number of people we will have in the area. They wanted to have a base for just between 4-7 people but later decided that the place is ideal for a police station.

RM: What progress have you made on the relocation of affected families?

Mr Motsi: For the villagers who were affected by the steel plant, they have been relocated and three houses have been built so far. One house is completed, the other one is almost complete and the other one is now is now at window level.

RM: So how many in total of these families are going to be relocated?

Mr Motsi: In the first phase, we have 6 who are going to be relocated and so far 3 families have their houses built already.

RM: What is the nature of the infrastructure that you provided them with?

Mr Motsi: I’ll send you the pictures of a 3-bedroom house and a very big round kitchen, a separate toilet for men and women and bathing rooms as well. They are also going to drill a communal borehole very soon but in the near future they are going to install water in the houses.

RM: Do we have an indicative value as to the cost of the construction?

Mr Motsi: It’s over US$70 000 so far and they are not using farm brick but proper common bricks produced by Sino cement.

RM: How far away from the site have these people been relocated?

Mr Motsi: They are about 10km away from the steel plant.

RM: So any other developments you have made on the ground regarding Munyati bridge and also about the roads in the area?

Mr Motsi: Currently, they are working on the road designs, and they are grading it at the moment before they put a tarred road. In terms of the bridge, it’s a concrete steel bridge and adjacent to the bridge will be the railway line and the road as well.

RM: Now that you have the EIA for the power line, what can you tell me about that?

Mr Motsi: In terms of clearance, very soon we are going to start. In terms of the actual construction of the line, there is supposed to be procurement approval from the cabinet.

RM: In terms of the power line, the actual building and the work that is currently being done you have applied a lot of manpower. How many people are being employed at the site now?

Mr Motsi: Over 300 people are going to be employed just for the power line. We are going to employ local people to do the clearance. EMA has got certain requirements for the line clearance like the use of saw chains. The company is donating to the local people who are near the power line.

RM: What is the number of people involved in the work currently taking place at the steel plant so far?

Mr Motsi: Currently I think we have about 500 people and from that number, 50 of them are expatriates and the rest are the local people.

RM: Any other developments of interest on the site?

Mr Motsi: We are in contact with Econet and anytime soon they are going to install a network booster for connectivity and also Net-One are going to come in to upgrade the existing network because it is weak. We managed to construct a 11kv power line and its now functional and it’s about 6-7km long. We have a built office at the site as well and we are now building accommodation again for management. Accommodation for general workers is there already at the site and it can accommodate over 300 people.

RM: We also understand that this development has a lot of implications. Some of the machinery and equipment will have to come by sea through Mozambique. What developments have you put in place in terms of logistics from Mozambique to Zimbabwe?

Mr Motsi: We have designs which are being down, we are going to build a railway line from Hwange to the site and another line which connects from Selous to the site again. We are going to build another railway line from the site to Mvuma, and then from Mvuma to Masvingo so the shortest route we want to use is the Beitbridge-Rutenga. Then from Rutenga to Chikwara-kwara via Maputo. So we have already discussed with our Mozambican counterparts that we should have our own dedicated port that we will use for our hauls. There is no way we can use trucks, it is very expensive and costly. From Hwange, we are going to pump about 1 million tonnes of coal and another million tonnes of chrome from Selous. We are still scouting for the limestone, we are going to use about 800 tonnes of limestone. And there is no way we can use the road network for all this. So we are investing a lot of money to construct about 3000km of railway line within Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

RM: I wanted clarity on the Mozambican side in terms of the infrastructure, are you going to use existing infrastructure or you are going to build a new harbour?

Mr Motsi: We are going to build a new port because the current port is congested. So we are looking for a site within Mozambique to build a port.

RM: So have you done the paperwork and other arrangements with the Mozambican side. How has been the progress?

Mr Motsi: Last week but one we were in Mozambique and we met the governor for Sofala province. We also met government officials and the ministry responsible for railway, transport and ports in Mozambique. We had discussions with them and we are going to make a follow up next week whereby we asked them to identify for us a possible location where we can build the port, and also ask about the requirements. We have asked them to form an inter-ministerial committee with all government departments which are responsible for infrastructure development and we agreed. So these are the people with whom we are going to meet in our next meeting, in which we are going to agree on the terms of reference. I think work will start as soon as we reach an agreement with the Mozambican government. The reception was very good, and they keen to accept, help and partner with us in our infrastructural development.

RM: When one hears about Mozambique and your intention to partner in that corridor, they also think about the security situation in Mozambique. How far will the insurgency in Mozambique impact on your progress?

Mr Motsi: The security is guaranteed and we are aware that all airports are being done by the SADC community and they have mobilised security personnel so that the area is cleared from those threats. Mozambique and Zimbabwe or SADC at large are prepared to secure the area since this corridor is not only going to benefit Dinson alone, but it’s an asset for both Zimbabwe and Mozambique. That development on its own is going to make Zimbabwe and Mozambique to be closer especially in trade issues since you know trade is the backbone of all infrastructure development. So that bond between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, because of the development which Dinson is going to do, is going to also boost our relationship with our sister neighbour and SADC at large.

RM: Finally, the issue of timeline. I understand you haven’t commenced the power line from Selous to plant and also you’re starting the building of infrastructure and so forth. Are you able to meet the December 2022 deadline?

Mr Motsi: What was stopping us is the EIA. So now we have got the EIAs. Our wish is to have our plant functional by the end of this year. The work for the power line has started, the work for the bridge has started and the work on the mines have started because we now have the full EIA. So for all these projects, we wish by end of this year December, we would have started.

RM: Relative to the construction of the power line itself, it will take about eighteen months and eighteen months from now will take us way into 2023. Are you going to put any accelerated measures to see to it that you don’t miss the December 2022 commissioning date?

Mr Motsi: What we are going to do is to talk to the contractors so that we have 24-hour shifts doing our work. So basically, that again is the advantage to us. The timelines are reduced, that’s why we are talking about December or maybe January. But our wish is to start work this year. We have another development near our plant that I have to mention. We are going to have a new time and the concept plan has been sent to the Harare Head Office for approval so that at least we now come up with the master plan for the new town.

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