Lancashire Steel revival hinges on Cabinet approval

The Chronicle

Michael Magoronga, Business Correspondent
THE joint venture deal between Kwekwe-based company Lancashire Steel and an Indian investor, Whinstone Enterprises, is set to be tabled before Cabinet for approval.

The two parties signed an agreement in July last year and the Indian investor is expected to meet the much-needed financial requirements for the revived business while Lancashire Steel will offer labour, skills and equipment.

In an interview yesterday, Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said the deal was supposed to sail through Cabinet and the parastatal restructuring committee before implementation stage.

“It is true that there was a deal between Lancashire and an Indian Investor. The deal, however, needs to be regularised and it will have to go through those two phases – Cabinet and the parastatal restructuring committee for further scrutiny,” he said.

The Minister said the two parties were confident that the deal would come to fruition dismissing reports from some quarters that the deal had collapsed.

“The deal is not off the table, at this point it is important for the two parties to follow laid down procedure. In this case, it is a joint venture and it is important that the two parties agree and follow procedure for the benefit of everyone and the nation.

“On our part as Government, we are committed to see the revival of the company and I am sure our partners are also confident of the same. We are keen to see progress not only in the Midlands but in the country’s industries and I assure you, before you know it, there will be a bit of progress,” he said.

Yesterday, Whinstone Enterprises placed an advertisement calling for long time Lancashire Steel employees to submit their curriculum vitaes and profiles as “a matter of urgency” to the plant offices in Kwekwe, a move Minister Ndlovu said was a bit hasty.

“I am yet to see the advert but, well I think they are too confident that the deal will sail through. However, it was a bit ahead of time, it needs to go through the proper processes,” said Minister Ndlovu.

Lancashire stopped operations in 2010 following the demise of Ziscosteel, its major raw material supplier.

If successful, the five-year deal will be implemented in phases with the refurbishment of the plant and wire as well as rod mills being the first phases.

At full capacity, the company can produce about 4 000 tonnes of steel per month and employ about 600 workers.