The Zambian government has deployed a task force to resuscitate Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco), according to local media. The task force consists of ministers from various ministries including industry and commerce, finance and mining.
Earlier in March, there were talks that the company’s board sought government approval to appoint a German consultant to evaluate the assets of the company and bring in an investor to restart operations.
Attempts to revive operations of Zisco by Essar Global and China-based Guangzhou R&FA failed. In 2011, Essar Global had signed a $10bn deal with the Zambian government to acquire and expand the operations of Zisco, but political stalemate and lack of clarity on mineral rights stalled the transaction. Last year, R&FA called off a $1bn deal to acquire majority stakes in Zisco.
Zisco was Zimbabwe’s integrated steel manufacturer which closed in 2008 due to the economic downslide of the country and debts incurred by the company. In 2008, Zisco’s output slumped to 12,500mt of pig iron. Most of the company’s assets are obsolete, still, it is a massive investment by Zambia, which import 0.5mn mt of finished steel products annually. Although it is unlikely that the operations could restart at Zisco, if they do restart, the country has ample iron ore and coal reserves to support domestic steel production.