India keen on Zimbabwe’s iron ore

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INDIA’S Minister of Steel, Shri Beni Prasad Verma, met his Zimbabwean counterparts this week and offered to help the country exploit its vast iron ore reserves as well as develop the local steel industry.
Verma, who arrived in Harare on Monday, held meetings with Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu and Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi.
Speaking after the meetings Verma said: “Zimbabwe has large reserves of low grade iron ore, the Indian steel industry can be a partner in developing and gainfully utilising these resources.”
“The visit will strengthen relations between the two countries and give thrust to the possibility of exploration and development of mineral assets.”
Verma’s visit came as the US$750 million takeover of the mothballed Ziscosteel by India-based Essar Holdings remains stalled over the transfer mineral resources to Essar.
The deal was expected to help revive the Redcliff-based steelmaker which stopped production in 2009, pushed to the wall by massive debts, poor management and undercapitalisation.
Mpofu has blocked the deal which was negotiated by Ncube, arguing that the mineral resources were undervalued.
Zisco’s iron ore reserves were one of the key attractions for Essar which has since announced plans to build a terminal in Mozambique to facilitate the export of surplus production from reserves at Ripple Creek and Mwanezi.
The initial deal had given Essar 54 percent of the steel mill at Redcliff and an 80 percent interest in a separate unit that would operate the mines.Advertisement