Harare (New Ziana) – Dorowa Minerals, a primary producer of phosphate concentrates in Zimbabwe, plans to diversify into magnetite production to boost its revenue base, an official has said.
Magnetite is a rock mineral and one of the main iron ores which has several domestic and industrial uses including separating coal from waste, while for domestic purposes it can be transformed and used as magnetic decor for refrigerator doors.
Dorowa Minerals general manager Charles Mangadze told New Ziana that the company was sitting on about 26 million tonnes of iron, the ore that contains the mineral magnetite.
“Besides phosphate which is used in the fertiliser chain, we also produce a mineral called magnetite, we produce it as a by-product but of late it is now no-longer a by-product because there are so many customers that are willing to take our magnetite,” he said.
“We have got plans to expand the current magnetite circuit. Initially it was not one of our main products but now that we have got so much demand we actually have a project that is running right now which we expect to complete by mid-2020 (that is), the expansion of the magnetite production line.”
Mangadze said the burgeoning demand was emanating from Mozambican coal companies as well as local ones.
“We currently are producing about 2 000 tonnes per month which is not meeting the demand so we want to expand our plant so that we can produce up to 8 000 tonnes per month, the current customers have come to us wanting magnetite of around 12 000 tonnes per month,” he said.
To expand the magnetite production line, Mangadze said Dorowa would require around US$1.8 to US$2 million.
Meanwhile, Mangadze said Dorowa was facing several operational challenges including power and fuel shortages.
He said the company, which operates 24 hours daily, required about 4 000 to 5 000 litres of fuel per day for operations.
He said the company was working on securing adequate electricity and fuel supplies.
“Currently we are losing 9 to 10 hours of production every day (due to power outages). We recently signed a contract with Zesa to pay (for electricity) in forex and they promised us that we will be ring-fenced but we are still losing power but not as much as domestic consumers,” he said.
“So we are looking at other sources (of electricity), our plant is a 4 megawatt plant, right now we have got proposals for a solar plant that we are looking at.”
Dorowa Minerals is the only phosphate miner in Zimbabwe which is wholly owned by the Industrial Development Corporation.
The phosphate concentrates are a crucial raw material in the production of fertilisers and other agro-chemical products produced by companies including Zimphos, Sable Chemicals and the Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, all sister companies of Dorowa under the IDC stable.