Zimbabwean Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire says the government wants to reopen negotiations on a deal it made with Essar Africa Holdings of India to relaunch the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, now called New Zimbabwe Steel Limited.
Chimanikire said Zimbabwe is in talks with Essar to claw back rights to iron ore reserves granted to Essar under the US$750 million deal. The mineral rights are held by New Zimbabwe Minerals, a subsidiary of the relaunched national steel company.
The deputy minister said Essar is extracting iron ore and preparations to refurbish the Redcliff steel plant are at an advanced stage. Neither Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, who negotiated the deal, nor Essar management, could be reached for comment.
Chimanikire said he hopes the new talks won’t derail the revival of the long-moribund steel maker. “Our concern is that Ncube did not consult the Ministry of Mines when they parceled out huge iron ore deposits to Essar,” Chimanikire said.
Economic commentator Bekithemba Mhlanga said the government should not have signed the agreement with Essar without carefully scrutinizing its terms