Industry Minister Welshman Ncube says New Zimbabwe Steel Limited is expected to start operations within the next few days as the government implements an October cabinet ruling which finally gave a thumbs up to the $750 million Essar Africa Holdings deal to takeover the defunct Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZiscoSteel).
Ncube said a technical committee comprising top officials from his ministry, the mines ministry and Essar Africa Holdings executives, is overseeing the implementation of the cabinet order following two years of lack of progress due to a dispute over iron ore deposits to be handed over to the Indian firm.
He said the government will hand over to Essar iron ore deposits in Kwekwe and Buchwa Mine, now known as New Zimbabwe Minerals.
“It’s a simple two-legged decision. The first leg of that decision was that we will transfer to New Zimbabwe Steel Minerals all the iron claims at Ripple Creek and Buchwa Mine which were held by ZiscoSteel,” said Ncube.
New Zimbabwe Steel Limited workers council chairman Partson Mubaiwa said the government and Essar Africa Holdings have been tight-lipped over the deal though more than 2,700 employees returned to work on Monday.
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu declined to comment saying he is on leave.
The deal has been mirred in controversy with some government officials claiming the industry minister almost parceled out millions of iron ore reserves to Essar Africa Holdings for peanuts when he signed the deal to revive ZiscoSteel in 2011.
Essar bought a 53 percent stake in the state-owned entity which collapsed mainly due to mismanagement.