Skills development, digitization and metal value addition key for Zimbabwe’s casting industry
By Ndanatsiwa Tagwireyi.
Players in Zimbabwe’s metal casting sector cited skills development, digitization and metal value addition as key determinants that catapult the transforming of the Foundry industry in Zimbabwe.
This came to light at a two-day Metal Casting and Engineering Summit organized by the Zimbabwe Institute of Foundries (ZIF) and the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT). The summit was held on 17-18 March and ran under theme, “Championing beneficiation of metals, transforming the foundry industry.” It was graced by adept professionals in the metal casting sector, government officials, players in finance, environmental champions and other delegates in and outside Zimbabwe.
Issues that took center stage at the Metal Casting and Engineering Summit include local, regional and international metal casting foundry; metal casting industrialization and engineering (the business perspective); role of iron, copper value addition and beneficiation to metal industry development as well as metal casting industry and policy perspective.
Speaking to The Mining Vision Magazine on the sidelines of the summit, ZIF Chief Operations Officer Dosman Mangisi (pictured) said the summit was graced by key stakeholders who articulated all issues to do with metal casting engineering in Zimbabwe.
“Key things highlighted include the issue of human capital and skills development, which was articulated by Harare Institute of Technology and the Zimbabwe School of Mines. School of Mines is already in the process to support this,” Mangisi told the Mining Vision Magazine.
According to a 2017 International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management paper titled, “Challenges and opportunities in implementing engineering systems thinking in design, manufacturing and process industries in Zimbabwe,” as technology evolves, the traditional disciplines become interdisciplinary and complex requiring engineers with a capacity for engineering systems thinking to perform tasks in an integrated manner. The paper notes that these abilities are a combination of knowledge acquired from tertiary institutions, professional skills from practice and behavioral competencies from interacting with other professionals in practice.
Players in the metal casting sector also pinpointed that digitization can go a long way in helping the sector to improve on efficiency and complete the metal casting value chain with competitive products in the market.
“The Foundry program is a full package which covers the whole metal casting industry in terms of value addition and beneficiation of metals, minerals, technology, equipment, skills, digitalization and other things,” ZIF COO said. “The issue of digitalization, to help the local steel casting industry which is lagging behind also came to light and it was presented by Andrew MacFarlane from MAGMA who highlighted the issues of metal casting digitization to give efficiency, accuracy and quality of products so that they are competent on the market.”
“When the system is computerized or digitized, it is able to analyze the product of which the majority of Zimbabwe, (90%) are still doing sandcasting which is too manual and to see the quality of that, we have to take the products to the lab, to see the results. The majority do not do that, therefore, the metal products become inferior in the market,” Mangisi noted
The metal casting summit also touched on value addition and beneficiation of minerals and metals in the metals sector.
According to Mangisi, Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa unveiled the emerging of a steel giant Tsingshan Holdings that is going to put Zimbabwe on the global map on steel production. Its value chain from Hwange, issues of coke production, railway network and also promoting the growth of the chrome sector was explained.
“In less than 10 months, we project chrome mining to grow vastly in terms of production because the plant consumes a lot of chrome and also nickel,” he told the Mining Vision Magazine
“Manganese and limestone demand will increase soon, the coming in of the steel giant will therefore grow the beneficiation of metals translating into employment creation, Foreign Direct Investment, import substitution and the strengthening of the Zimbabwean dollar,”