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Zisco rehabilitation begins

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Government and Indian mining firm Essar Africa Holdings will on Monday officially launch the $750 million rehabilitation programme of Ziscosteel in Redcliff.

Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube yesterday confirmed the development.

“President Robert Mugabe is expected to unveil a plaque to officially launch the rehabilitation of Ziscosteel. There will be an unveiling ceremony to mark that milestone,” said Ncube. Several senior government officials, including Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, are expected to attend the event.

Essar Africa Holdings, a subsidiary of the Essar Group, now owns 54% of Ziscosteel, with government maintaining a 36% stake while 10% remains in the hands of small private investors.

Under the agreement, the Indian company took over debts owed by government estimated at more than $340 million. Essar is expected to inject $750 million for recapitalisation of the plant.

“In broad terms, the agreement provides for Essar to take over and release the Zimbabwean government from its debt obligations,” said Ncube in March after the deal was concluded.

“Essar will also complete all work relating to the re-lining of the blast furnaces and coke oven batteries.”

Ziscosteel is the largest steel works in the country and has not been operating for several years due to the shortage of working capital for maintenance of the plant and equipment.

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