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BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

MINING and industrial equipment manufacturing concern, Shepco Group, expects to commission its US$2,35 million plant for making roller equipment during the first quarter of the year, an official has said.

The engineering firm operates two divisions — Shepco Industrial Supplies and Shepco BMA Fasteners, a bolt manufacturing section that was bought on liquidation in December 2015 from Steelnet.

Shepco Industrial Supplies manufactures mining equipment such as locomotives and underground loaders, among others.

In an interview with NewsDay Business, Shepco Group chief executive officer, Shepherd Chawira said they had imported the machinery for manufacturing roller equipment from China and were expecting it to arrive next month.

“There is no plan to retool at the moment; we have a new project which we started in 2019. We have imported the machinery from China and we are expecting the machinery to arrive around March. The building to house the machinery is almost complete now,” Chawira said.

“That’s the only project that we probably have at the moment. It’s for expansion purposes. It’s a plant to manufacture the roller equipment. It’s for the rollers for conveyor belts….So we are expecting to commission that plant at the end of first quarter or beginning of second quarter. Otherwise for now that’s the major project that we have.”

“The machines that are coming are worth about US$1 million and the whole project is about US$2,53 million,” he said.

Chawira said for retooling they needed about US$10 million for both companies, but they were facing funding constraints.

He said the year 2020 was difficult to predict on how business would perform.

“It’s very difficult at this moment to predict, especially having the same power and fuel challenges, with a depressed demand. However, we are looking forward to serious growth, we are looking forward to exports, we are targeting the Democratic Republic of Congo. We have already started doing that, Zambia and other countries to try and stabilise the portfolio, especially on the forex fund,” he said.

Chawira said this year they were expecting that there would be no major policy changes on the side of the authorities.

“That would really cause a bit of challenges for us. We are also looking forward to the issue of the Zimbabwe dollar and the US$, that there is clarity as to the way forward because it looks like the market has redollarised itself and that is posing a serious challenge to industry because as industry we are selling in Zimbabwean dollars, but we are expected to buy from some of our suppliers in US dollars,” he said.

Government last year introduced the local currency, but due to inflationary pressures, the market is slowly rejecting it for foreign currencies such as the United States dollar and South African rand.

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