Zambia is set to construct the largest manganese smelting plant in the country at a whopping cost of US $15m.
The project which will be under a Chinese company, Hu-Cheng Mining LTD, will be located in Kapiri Mposhi district, in Central Province. The smelter will have capacity to process 40, 000 tonnes of manganese, which will produce steel alloy plates, to be used in the manufacturing of iron related products such as iron sheets and machinery.
“This plant we are constructing here will be the biggest in Zambia, we have a similar plant in China were we are processing raw manganese into semi-finished steel alloy so this one is a model of that plant in China,” said Yan Li, Hu-Cheng Mining LTD Production Director.
Empowering local manganese miners
Construction is expected to be complete and handed over in July 2019. It will help create over 200 job opportunities, and social responsibility programmes will be initiated for local people in the district. 400 permanent jobs will also be created.
Li also noted that the company will empower local manganese miners as Kapiri Mposhi, Mkushi and Serenje districts with mining equipment to enhance their mining capacity, in order to sustain the supply of the required manganese feed-stock to the plant.
“Small scale miners will have no challenge to supply us with manganese because we are going to supply them with machinery such as excavators and transfer mining skills to them to mine the ore to supply us to sustain the plant. The construction of the manganese plant and other investments coming to the district will help the local authority increase its revenue base,” said Yan Li.
Challenge in electricity supply
However, Mr Li notes that electricity will be a challenge during the construction process due to the high voltage of electricity supply needed at the plant. He said his company has since presented a request to ZESCO for supply the plant with a 33 kilo-volt line.
“We set up this plant in Kapiri Mposhi because the area is strategically located and has enough manganese deposits to sustain the plant,” said Mr. Li.