Zimbabwe has selected Kuvimba Mining House Ltd., a state-owned company, which has been shrouded in controversy, to revive one of the continent’s largest steel mills.
The miner, which already has vast interests in gold and nickel, has been picked as the “investment partner” to breath new life into the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, which has been shut for 14 years. At its peak, the plant produced nearly 1 million tons of steel a year.
Kuvimba Mining has said it bought its assets from a company linked to Kudakwashe Tagwirei, a Zimbabwean tycoon who was sanctioned by the US Treasury in 2020 because of allegations he bribed government officials and used political influence to win lucrative state deals.
The government invited bids in April 2021 from investors in a bid to bring back Ziscosteel, which is located in the Midlands province, an area with vast deposits of chrome and platinum. Previous attempts to re-start the mill, including interest by India’s Essar Steel Ltd, stalled as prospective investors haggled over a $300 million debt burden and obsolete machinery at the plant.
Farai Koronga, the chief executive officer for Ziscosteel, said the company needs “$350 million to $400 million to revive the project,” in a phone interview from the mining town of Redcliff. “It all depends on the new investor on what they want to do.”
The Zimbabwe Investment Development Authority, a state-owned investment vehicle, recommended the choice of Kuvimba after carrying out due diligence, according to Joram Gumbo, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs.