Sinosteel Contractors in Zimbabwe Told to Halt Mining

Zimasco Ltd. will cut ferrochrome production in Zimbabwe by 40 percent as the global slowdown damps demand from its customers in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

The “global economic crisis and lower than expected economic activity” had forced it to reduce output, the unit of Sinosteel Corp. said in a faxed statement today from Harare, the capital.

Chrome-ore mining will be cut on the North Dyke, George Zimuto, a Zimasco contractor who has been told to halt mining, said by phone yesterday. Most of Zimbabwe’s ferrochrome deposits lie in the Great Dyke, a mountain range that runs the length of the country, rich in ferrochrome, platinum and gold deposits.

Zimuto said he and all contractors on the North Dyke were told to return all railway track and equipment to Zimasco’s Mutorashanga office.

Sinosteel acquired Zimasco in 2007. The company has mined ferrochrome on the Great Dyke since the early 1900s and has been owned by local businesses, Union Carbide Corp. and Rio Tinto Plc.

“The North Dyke around Mutorashanga mines very high-quality chrome from very narrow seams, which is more expensive,” Zimuto said today. “The South Dyke mines in Shurugwi and Lalapanzi have thicker seams which are cheaper to mine.”

The closing means “well over 1,000” people will be out of work, he said. “It’s going to devastate the area.”

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