27 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Dorowa Mine Shuts Down

Chemplex Corporation has shut down its subsidiary Dorowa Minerals which is the country's sole producer of phosphate citing liquidity challenges. Phosphate is a major nutritional component required by plants as most soils in Zimbabwe are phosphate deficient. It is also used to produce fertiliser.

Dorowa Mine stopped operations two months ago after producing more than 20 000 tonnes of phosphate while uptake by fertiliser companies was low.

Chemplex Corporation group chief executive Mr Misheck Kachere confirmed the closure adding that operations might resume early next month.

He said Zimphos, which is the major consumer of phosphate from Dorowa Mine, was facing serious cash flow challenges to buy other inputs for fertiliser production.

Mr Kachere said it was useless for the Mine to continue producing a product that was not marketable.

"It is a sad situation but we have been on record as saying our major challenge is cash flow. Zimphos is facing financial challenges. Apart from phosphate that we get from Dorowa Mine, there are other inputs that we have to buy such as sulphuric acid.

"We are owed a lot of money by our customers including Government and we are not accessing lines of credit from banks," he said.

Mr Kachere said they are being denied credit facilities because they already owe banks huge sums of money.

He said even if their customers were to pay up through their bank accounts, the money would immediately go towards liquidating the existing loans.

Mr Kachere said Zimphos was now operating at 30 percent capacity instead of optimal capacity of 85 percent.

"Zimphos is operating below capacity as we try to deplete stocks from Dorowa. We are hoping that Dorowa Mine may resume operations in December," he said.

Mr Kachere said the issue of financial problems was not only affecting Dorowa Mine and Zimphos but other companies under Chemplex Corporation such as Sable Chemicals and Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company.

Sable Chemicals, Mr Kachere said needed ammonia to produce Ammonium Nitrate while ZFC requires money to buy potash to produce compound D.

When the Herald visited Dorowa Mine last week, only a few workers could be seen doing maintenance work.

The closure of Dorowa Mine had plunged the farming season into disarray as fertiliser companies are failing to satisfy the market.

The shortage of farming inputs has been regarded as one of the major reasons that prompted President Mugabe to introduce the Presidential Well-Wishers Input Scheme.

Most small-scale farmers are failing to get inputs which are either scarce on the market and where available they are expensive.

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