A Chinese company has embarked on the construction of a manganese smelting plant at the total cost of 15 million United States dollars in Kapiri Mposhi district, in Central Province.
Hu-Cheng Mining LTD, a company engaged to carry out the works commenced the construction of the plant three months ago, and is expected to complete the works and hand it over in July 2019.
Hu-Cheng Mining LTD Production Director Yan Li says the plant will be the largest manganese smelter in the country.
Mr Li told ZANIS in an interview that 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.
Mr Li said the company will also create over 200 direct jobs for local people in the district.
“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,” Mr. Li said.
He noted that the company will be procuring manganese ore from local small scale manganese miners, in Kapiri Mposhi, Mkushi and Serenje districts.
And Mr Li said his company will empower local manganese miners 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,” Mr Li said.
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,” Mr. Li said.
And Kapiri Mposhi Town Council Chairman, Obby Kabasa notes that the construction of the manganese plant, and other investments to the district will help the local authority increase its revenue base.