Sable Chemicals returns …plans to manufacture explosives for use by miners

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SITUATED some 12km from the once vibrant city of Kwekwe is a company that holds the key to unlocking the country’s potential.
The sight of yellow and white steam coming out of the three giant blast furnace towers tells the story of a revival in the making.
It also tells of the story of the country’s return to the global economic arena. The company is Sable Chemicals.
Long forgotten, the steam invokes memories of a vibrant past that used to bear witness at that sprawling company premises.
The steam has incited excitement not only to Zimbabwe but to the southern African region as a whole.That is how strategic Zimbabwe is to the region.
Sable Chemicals, once operating at full capacity, can export fertiliser to the region.
It can reduce the price of fertiliser drastically.
That is how critical Sable Chemicals is to President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa’s economic revival plan.
On Wednesday last week he was there, together with Vice-President General Constantino Dominic Nyikadzino Guveya Chiwenga (Rtd), to get a first-hand appreciation of that strategic unit.
The company’s website says:
“Sable Chemical Industries Limited is a fertiliser manufacturing company mainly producing Ammonium Nitrate (fertiliser and explosive grades) and other products which include Ammonia, Nitric acid, Oxygen (liquid and gas), 83 percent AN solution de-ionised water.
Sable Chemical Industries Limited aims to produce these Nitrogenous fertilisers and other chemicals in a safe and healthy environment to benefit all of its stakeholders.
Located in Kwekwe, Sable Chemical Industries Limited is Zimbabwe’s sole manufacturer of nitrogen-based fertiliser, ammonium nitrate (AN). The company was incorporated in 1965 and started operations in 1969 using ammonia, a key raw material in the fertiliser making process, which at that time was imported through Sasol, South Africa. In 1972, Sable commissioned its own ammonia production facility via electrolysis of water. This saw the import quota reduce to 30 percent of total raw materials required to make AN. The capacity of the plant is 240 000t/annum of AN.”
Soon after touring the company’s plant, the first by a sitting Head of State in Zimbabwe’s history, President Mnangagwa said Sable Chemicals was at the centre of the country’s development agenda.
He said Government would avail foreign currency to ease pressure on the company since it is key to the country’s development, particularly the agricultural sector.
President Mnangagwa said Sable Chemicals was critical in meeting the country’s fertiliser demand.
The company requires US$200 million to reach a production of 200 000 per annum. It says that target can be reached within the next two years. It is currently operating at 30 percent capacity and has promised to meet the country’s fertiliser demand of more than 100 000t/annum.
“My Government is working tirelessly to ensure that closed and distressed companies resume operations,” said President Mnangagwa.
“The success of Sable Chemicals will have ripple effects on the growth of other industries and the economy at large.
“Sable Chemicals is a strategic contributor to the country’s industrialisation agenda and the success of the modernisation of the agricultural sector. It occupies a unique space in this economy and its success will yield a wide range of cross cutting benefits. I urge the company to take advantage of the regional markets within SADC, COMESA and the rest of the African continent to export its surplus output to stimulate export growth and earn foreign currency.
“However, for the company to do so, it is necessary that my administration first makes the move to support the company with foreign currency.”
President Mnangagwa said the success of the hugely successful Command Agriculture Programme, which he initiated when he was still Vice-President, hinges on the full operation of companies like Sable Chemicals.
“The success of the Command Agriculture Programme for the 2016-17 farming season saw the annual demand of top dressing fertilisers rising to 110 000 metric tonnes for the summer cropping season alone,” he said.
“With an expected annual increase of the cropping hectarage, this volume is bound to increase drastically and Sable Chemicals must stand ready to meet the demand.
“I am informed that Sable Chemicals is benefitting and dependent on the rail network for transportation of raw materials, ammonia gas, as well as finished fertilisers. My Government has put in place concrete measures for a more efficient, reliable and modern rail network.
“I applaud your recent initiatives to reinvigorate the production process by ceasing the electrolysis method to produce ammonia gas, thereby releasing approximately 90 megawatts of electricity into the national grid.
“In addition, I commend Sable Chemicals’ long-term plans to use coal bed or natural gas to produce ammonia gas which will be used to manufacture ammonium nitrate and urea, which will ultimately reduce the price of top dressing fertilisers.”
Sable Chemicals has also revealed plans to manufacture explosives to be used by mining companies in the country.
Currently, Zimbabwe imports these explosives and local manufacturing of the products will go a long way in saving the country the much needed foreign currency.
As the country’s economic revival efforts continue, it is imperative for Government to prioritise companies which help in saving foreign currency.

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