Kwekwe based chrome miner African Chrome Fields (ACF) is in talks with a number of potential partners including ZimAlloys for joint value addition projects expected to result in at least two electric arc furnaces being set up, The Herald Business has learnt.
Although ACF country representative Ashraf Kaka only told Herald Business on the sidelines of the African Mining Indaba in Cape Town recently without divulging identities of the companies, sources say ZimAlloys is in advanced negotiations with ACF.
"We are also working on joint ventures with other ferrochrome producers to set up two electric arc furnaces with them," Kaka said, adding two potential partners had been identified to set up electricity powered electric arc furnaces.
Currently, because of its remote location, ACF operates diesel powered furnaces. ACF plans to sink $100 million into the Zimbabwean economy, to add to $220 million already invested in the mining sector.
Sources say the ZimAlloys-ACF deal was a closely guarded secret. "It is being secretly discussed and announcements will be made once agreements are made," said a source.
However, a well-placed source who has been part of negotiations hinted ACF was capitalising on problems at ZimAlloys to dictate terms of the deal. This has left ZimAlloys representatives questioning ACF's motives and its ability to fund the project.
The ACF deal comes after ZimAlloys secured $100 million investment from Balasore Alloys Group of India to recapitalise. This development - also coming after another major chrome producer Zimasco- which jointly accounts for 80 percent of the country's chrome claims mostly along the Great Dyke with ZimAlloys, recently crept out of judicial management - is expected to bring joy to the country's extractive industry and in particular the chrome industry which has potential to contribute immensely to national coffers. ZimAlloys is the country's largest chrome producer.