Charting Zimbabwe’s metal casting industry turnaround with ZIF COO
By Ndanatsiwa Tagwireyi
The turnaround of Zimbabwe’s metal casting industry is critical in servicing the mining, agriculture, construction and manufacturing sectors with the potential to promote export led industrialization. However, the country’s metal casting industry has not been operating at full capacity courtesy of some of the long overdue impediments including outdated machinery, lack of supporting policies, depressed market activity and management challenges. By bringing back the metals sector back to its former glory, Zimbabwe can catapult employment creation, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, Foreign Direct Investments and contribute to the realization of the National Development Strategy 1(NDS1). Against this background, The Mining Vision Magazine Editor Ndanatsiwa Tagwireyi (NT) interviewed the Zimbabwe Institute of Foundries Chief Operations Officer Dosman Mangisi(DM) (pictured below) to tap into insights that can quadruple the sector’s GDP contribution in Zimbabwe.
NT: Tell us a bit about yourself
DM: Dosman Mangisi; aged 44 Rose from a media background with a bias towards business content. I developed a passion for the mining industry which therefore stimulated me to pursue studies in mining through enrolling with the Zimbabwe School of Mines focusing on a number of advanced courses in mining and mineral processing and also with the Zimbabwe Institute of Management Mining and Mineral Resource Management. I have done studies in the mining sector of Zimbabwe ranging from large, medium to small scale mining with tangible mining projects benefiting small scale miners currently. These include the Bubi Small Scale Miners Service Center p0cin Matabeleland North, Wonderer Small Scale Miners Project in Shurugwi, Ingwizi Small Scale Miners Cooperative in Mpoengs Matabeleland South, only to mention a few.
NT: You were appointed as the Chief Operations Officer of the Zimbabwe Institute of Foundries about 7 months ago. From your appointment date up to now, what significant progress/ milestones have you made?
DM: From the 7 months of my appointment as Chief Operations Officer of the Zimbabwe Institute of Foundries, significant progress is already seen on the ground. ZIF managed to hold its first inaugural Metal Casting Indaba in Bulawayo which was attended by a number of government principals. The issue of value addition and beneficiation is now at center stage in the corridors of both public and private stakeholders. Government has already alluded to ban the export of scrap metal.
NT: You have seven years of experience in the mining industry having worked with the Zimbabwe Miners Federation and other stakeholders in the mining value chain. As someone coming from the mining background what drives you as the COO of ZIF?
DM: With a mining background and having studied it, it is a continuity of the mining value chain, that is exploration, extraction, processing, value addition and beneficiation. The core center of ZIF is on value addition and beneficiation of metals. Resuscitation and capacitation of the previous metal industries in Zimbabwe. This is where we are lagging behind as a country and there need to champion this sector; beneficiation of metals. We need to reach a stage where all minerals are processed in Zimbabwe at the same time being value added and beneficiated. With over 40 strategic minerals being base metals, Zimbabwe must be the hub of exporting metals.
NT: How is the Zimbabwe Institute of Foundries going to contribute its chunk in Zimbabwe’s mining industry value chain?
DM: ZIF members manufacture about 60% of metal products for the mining industry. These range from grinding media, that is steel balls, liners, bushes, water pumps, ball mills, etc. The mining sector in Zimbabwe has the biggest import bill of USD$3 Billion which chews away forex, hence ZIF seeks to redefine it, thus reducing forex demand for imports and strengthening the Zimbabwean dollar.
NT: Upon your appointment as ZIF COO, you were quoted saying “I am excited to assume the reins in the most challenging sector which deals with base metal.’’ What are some of the challenges bedeviling the base metal industry and how does ZIF intend to assist in confronting these impediments?
DM: The key challenges bedeviling the sector include finding processing technologies and human capital development. We are in engagement with the government principals to address the issues. We have also engaged successful regional players like South African Institute of Foundrymem (SAIF) to see how we can tackle these hurdles. We look forward to having all foundry raw materials in Zimbabwe, by having them it will bring down the cost of doing business to the sector, currently it stands at 70%. Minerals for raw materials are beneficiated out of Zimbabwe and imported back. Engagement with higher and tertiary education institutions for skills is key.
NT: In your own view, how can the government and other private players contribute to the turnaround of the Zimbabwe metal casting industry?
DM: Zimbabwe metal casting industry contributed around USD$ 1,5 billion to the Zimbabwe economy that is the GDP. It has the potential of contributing 4 fold if it is supported, in the short term run imports substitution of metal products, employment creation etc and the government will walk tall if it pays attention to the sector. ZISCO Steel will come back to life. Policy intervention, banning of scrap metal exports, promoting value addition and beneficiation of metals, business synergies in the metal Industry, downstream and upstream are key interventions.
NT: What can Zimbabwe learn from other developed and developing nations in the metal casting sector?
DM: China is a learning curve. The government is 100% supporting the casting industry. The Chinese metal products and machineries have flooded the mining sector. This is where the government must grab and utilize its own foundries and steel plants. We have all metals that are needed chief among them being iron. All strong economies are supported by the foundry sector, USA, China, German, Britain, India and others.
NT: What potential does the chrome ore export ban announced in cabinet recently has in boosting the operations of local foundries?
DM: There is a significant potential towards beneficiation of base metals. There is need to level up this by having many small furnaces of chrome to impact the ban. Currently, ferrochrome is in low supply to the local market.