Zim new dumping ground for second hand Chinese chrome smelters

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Tinashe Makichi

Zimbabwe has become a target for Chinese companies that are looking at dumping second-hand chrome smelters following the promulgation of an environmental law prohibiting use of heavy environmentally unfriendly machinery in the Asian country

In June last year, the State Council of China announced that it will ban new steel, coke, chrome and primary aluminum capacity in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and Yangtze River Delta regions. This comes as China is pushing heavy industries especially those
involved in chrome smelting to consider new technologies that are environmentally friendly. It therefore means that by migrating to the new technologies, countries like Zimbabwe become a lucrative and ready market to sell the old smelting machinery.

Business Times is informed that several chrome companies in Zimbabwe have since been approached by Chinese companies with the intention of striking deals on the smelters.

A Chinese company called Dongfeng is said to have approached Gweru-based ferrochrome producer ZimAlloys.

A source at ZimAlloys told Business Times that there has been a scramble by Chinese companies to secure a market for second hand plant equipment mainly chrome smelting because of Chinese environment laws.

“Recently we were approached by a Chinese company called Dongfeng who is looking at selling us chrome smelting facilities because as you are aware in South China, an environmental law was passed which prohibits pollution of the atmosphere. This issue is not only about smelting facilities but any other machinery which has the capacity to pollute the atmosphere,” said the source.

Acting Chinese Ambassador to  Zimbabwe Zhao Baogang told Business Times that he had not heard of any Chinese companies looking at selling smelters to Zimbabwe but stressed that in case there is an engagement, then it would be a purely business engagement regulated by clear business guidelines.

“To say that Chinese companies are looking at dumping smelters into Zimbabwe will be unfair but these engagement must be purely business and such engagements are usually determined by price and quality. It’s up to Zimbabweans to entertain the sellers or not,”
Baogang said.

Beijing, the Chinese capital, is widely considered as leading the charge on industrial pollution control with no imminent signs of slowing down. Having already rejected registration applications from 19 500 firms and shut down or relocated another 2 465 manufacturers – it is expected that by 2020 Beijing will shut down a further 1 000
manufacturing firms.

These accelerated closures and relocations signify Beijing’s withdrawal from traditional manufacturing businesses with the aim of reducing smog and providing more job opportunities for neighboring regions.

Environmental Management Agency (EMA) spokesperson Steady Kangata said Zimbabwe will continue to make sure that the environment is protected on the back of rising concerns on environmental pollution across the world.

“As EMA our main thrust is to make sure the country adopts environmentally friendly technologies that will also enhance the ecosystem well-being of the economy.  We are advocating for green  economies and in case those smelters are imported into Zimbabwe they are subjected to environmental impact assessment,” Kangata said.