Chronicle reported that Zimbabwe has provisionally shortlisted seven investors for a majority stake in the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company. Zimbabwe’s Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza said “We have done our due diligence on seven potential investors from Germany, China and Australia but we still have some from India making inquiries.
Zisco has been a subject of foreign investor interest in the past. Essar Africa Holdings, a unit of India’s Essar Group, had agreed to invest in Zisco in 2011 during the era of the inclusive Government, but the deal collapsed in 2015. This was after a similar deal with another Indian firm, Global Steel Holdings failed to materialise in 2007.
Zisco started operations in Bulawayo in 1938, having been formed by a private consortium. In 1942, the Government formed the Rhodesia Iron and Steel Commission, a statutory body that took over the steel works. In 1946, a small plant was constructed at Redcliff and commenced production in 1948. Between 1948 and 1956, Zisco gradually expanded and a year later, the Rhodesia Iron and Steel Company was formed followed by an expansion programme, which saw the commissioning of modern blast furnaces and installation of the first coke oven battery. The expansion of the plant continued until 1975 when blast furnace four was commissioned, bringing steelworks capacity to one million tonnes of liquid steel per year. By early 1990’s operations at Zisco started deteriorating while mining costs at Buchwa Mine sharply rose, forcing the company to develop Ripple Creek Mine for the supply of iron ore to the blast furnaces. Blast Furnace four was reaching the end of its lifespan and was taken off in 1994. A Chinese company was contracted to reconstruct and reline the furnace, which was recommissioned in 1999. Zisco stopped operations in 2008 due to lack of capital to recapitalise and poor management.
Zisco is 91% owned by the Government. The remaining 9% is held by Louth Minerals SA 3%, Tonexin Investments 2.8%, Stewarts and Lloyds (Overseas) 1.76%, Franconian Investments 0.81%, Amzim Limited 0.75% and Zambia Copper Investment Limited 0.13%.