Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
REDCLIFF-based chemical manufacturing company, ZimChem Refineries (Pvt) Limited, says it requires US$3 million for the upgrade of its refinery plant and purchase of raw materials to increase production.

The wholly-owned Zimbabwean firm processes crude benzol and tar into a range of chemical products that are used for road works and timber protection among others.

ZimChem is operating at 10 percent capacity owing to shortage of raw materials.

Acting managing director, Mr Tendai Shoko, said a revival roadmap had been put in place to increase production from 10 percent to 85 percent of capacity.

“We are working with the new Ziscosteel board and management so that we revive the batteries within Ziscosteel and increase capacity utilisation. The short-term plan is to increase production from 10 percent to 85 percent and later to 100 percent,” said Mr Shoko.

In a bid to counter raw material shortages, he said, arrangements were being made for Hwange to supply Zimchem the tar it is exporting.

“We are working on a plan so that all the tar, which is being produced by Hwange companies come here for value addition and further processing,” he said.

Mr Shoko said the company was working on sprucing its plant as one of its units has not been functioning.

“We need about US$2 million for this sprucing up work and US$1 million for raw materials,” said Mr Shoko.

He also said the company was also working on boosting its exports.

“We are exporting to South Africa products worth US$250 000 per month or US$1,2 million per year,” said Mr Shoko.

At the moment the company is producing 3 000 tonnes of crude tar and 1 000 tonnes of benzol.

ZimChem was forced to shut down its benzol processing plant and its tar processing plant is operating at 10 percent capacity due to shortage of tar.

The company is only getting 400 tonnes of tar when it requires about 4 000 tonnes a month.

Located within the Ziscosteel plant, the company can employ about 200 workers at its peak but at the moment it just has 70.