By KENNEDY MUPESENI –
UNIVERSAL Mining and Chemical Industries Limited (UMCIL) plans to double its annual production of iron ore to more than 120,000 from 72,000 tonnes next year to feed the steel plant.
The company, which operates the Kafue Steel Plant under the Trade Kings Group, has invested US$70 million in iron ore mining in Nampundwe’s Sanje Hill area in an effort to reduce over-dependence on scrap metal to manufacture steel at its Kafue plant.
Kafue Steel director Julius Kaoma said the shortage of scrap metals that had hit the country, had affected production hence the group’s resolve to have its own source of raw materials.
“This year has been good despite the energy challenge we faced which seems to be over and with the shortage of scrap, we have opened up a mine. We are mining and concentrating on mining our own iron ore,” Dr Kaoma said.
He said this in an interview in Kitwe at the weekend.
Dr Kaoma said the mine in Mumbwa started with 72,000 tonnes of iron this year and that production was likely to be pushed to more than 120,000 tonnes to meet the demand of the Kafue plant now that power supply had stabilised.
The company could not venture into outsourcing iron ore from elswhere because some of it might not meet the specifications and the stipulated grade, or failure in consistent supply.
“We wanted a grade that meets our expectations, at the moment we have high grade of iron ore of 65 per cent after concentrating it, we get 68 per cent,” Dr Kaoma said.
He described 2017 as a good year for the business and that the company was looking forward to 2018 for business stability especially that factors that hinder growth had been worked on.
Dr Kaoma urged consumers to participate in the buy Zambia campaign and that President Edgar Lungu’s drive on industrialisation should be embraced because a strong local manufacturing base was needed to spur economic growth.