China’s Tsingshan expands plans for Zimbabwe steel plant

China’s Tsingshan Holding Group has expanded its plans for a steel plant in Zimbabwe to include a power plant and a lithium concession, Zimbabwe’s Mines Minister Winston Chitando said on Tuesday.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is trying to woo foreign investors, especially in mining, as part of efforts to revive an economy that suffered in the later years of Robert Mugabe’s rule.

Tsingshan signed a $1 billion outline agreement to build a 2 million tonne-per-annum steel plant in Zimbabwe in June last year.

Its original agreement included chrome, nickel, iron and coal concessions, but the new deal allows it to build a 600-megawatt power plant in two phases as well as to mine lithium.

Tsingshan’s subsidiary, Afrochine, already has a ferrochrome operation at Selous, 85 kilometres west of Harare.

“The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed today expands the scope of the original MoU,” Chitando said at a briefing attended by Mnangagwa, his two vice presidents and Tsingshan executives led by Chen Shansong.

Chitando said Tsingshan now aimed to produce 1 million tonnes of ferrochrome for local use and for export as part of the project, versus an initial target of about 550,000 tonnes of ferrochrome for local use only.

Tsingshan will also explore the viability of upgrading Zimbabwe’s rail link to Mozambique’s Beira port, Chitando added.

(By Nelson Banya; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Alexander Winning)

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