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Dinson steel plant construction on track to meet December target – The Herald

Oliver Kazunga

Senior Business Reporter

DINSON Iron and Steel Company (Disco) says construction of its US$1,5 billion steel plant in Manhize near Mvuma is 78 percent complete with the project on track to meet the December 2023 commissioning target.

The development of the steelworks believed to be Africa’s largest integrated steel plant, began in 2022 with an initial production deadline of August this year, but this has since been moved to December following delays that resulted from incessant rains the country experienced early this year.

Disco is one of the three local subsidiaries of China’s largest stainless steel producer, Tsingshan Holdings Group Limited.

It also owns Dinson Colliery in Hwange in Matabeleland North Province and a ferrochrome plant, Afrochine Smelting Limited in Selous.

In an interview on Monday, Disco project director Mr Wilfred Motsi said overall the steelworks project was now 78 percent complete while the construction of the electricity transmission line from Sherwood to Manhize was also progressing well.

The company has also announced the intention to develop three greenfield power projects with a combined output of 300MW.

The three power projects are solar, wind and heat from the steel plant’s operations which will be converted into electricity.

The plant will need about 500MW under the first phase of the steel production.

“In terms of construction of the steel plant the project is now 78 percent complete and our wish is to meet the December commissioning deadline which at the moment we are on track to achieve.

“We have also cleared the 100-kilometre stretch from Sherwood in Kwekwe to the steel plant for the power transmission line and also the foundations for the pylons of that transmission line all have been completed while at the site construction of the support infrastructure is under construction.“We are also in the process of constructing a power workshop that we hope will be complete by the time the first blast furnace is switched on in December. Heat produced from the power workshop will be converted into electricity,” he said.

Zimbabwe is poised to become Africa’s largest steel producer and seventh in the world when the Manhize steel plant becomes operational.

The project will be commissioned in phases starting with an annual production of 600 000 tonnes, which will be gradually ramped up to 1,2 million in the second phase and 2,4 million in the next phase before reaching five million in the final phase.

When Zisco was operating at its peak in the late 1990s producing about 1,2 million tonnes of steel annually, Zimbabwe was Africa’s biggest iron and steel producer.

However, Zisco seized operations in 2008. Mr Motsi dismissed reports that the company was importing raw materials such as cement and bricks for the Manhize steel plant.

“It is not true that we are importing cement.

“We are sourcing it from local cement producers. “However, what we are importing from China and Hong Kong are those refractory bricks used when building blast furnaces,” he said. According to ZimTrade, potential export steel markets for Zimbabwe include Zambia, Botswana, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, and Namibia.

According to Trade Map, Zambia imported iron and steel worth around US$226 million in 2020, with the majority coming from South Africa (US$113 million), China (US$64 million), Chile (US$27 million), and India (US$3 million). In terms of quantities, Zambia has been importing more iron and steel over the years, from around 58 000 tonnes in 2018 to around 81 000 in 2021.

“Leveraging on Zimbabwe’s short distance to Zambia, there is potential for Manhize Iron Steel Plant to produce products that will compete well in the neighboring country,” said Zimtrade.

In Malawi, most of the iron and steel imports, worth around US$83 million in 2021 came from China. The other major suppliers are South Africa, Zambia, and Mozambique. In terms of quantities, Malawi imported 39 000 tonnes of iron and steel in 2021.

During the same year, Mozambique also imported around 111 000 tonnes, valued at US$99 million. Major suppliers were South Africa, China, Japan, Turkey, and Portugal. Namibia in 2021 imported 26 000 tonnes of iron and steel worth around US$95 million, with major suppliers being South Africa, China, and Zambia.

For DRC, the import value of  46 000 tonnes of iron and steel was about US$126 million in 2021, with major suppliers being South Africa, China, Zambia, and Turkey.

“Considering the proximity of these markets, and their current source markets, that are as far as Asia and Europe, there is no doubt that locally produced iron and steel will compete well in the region,” said Zimtrade.

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New insights into the atmosphere and star of an exoplanet – Science Daily

Astronomers led by a team at Université de Montréal has made important progress in understanding the intriguing TRAPPIST-1 exoplanetary system, which was first discovered in 2016 amid speculation it could someday provide a place for humans to live.

Not only does the new research shed light on the nature of TRAPPIST-1 b, the exoplanet orbiting closest to the system’s star, it has also shown the importance of parent stars when studying exoplanets.

Published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, the findings by astronomers at UdeM’s Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) and colleagues in Canada, the U.K. and U.S. shed light on the complex interplay between stellar activity and exoplanet characteristics.

Captured the attention

TRAPPIST-1, a star much smaller and cooler than our sun located approximately 40 light-years away from Earth, has captured the attention of scientists and space enthusiasts alike since the discovery of its seven Earth-sized exoplanets seven years ago. These worlds, tightly packed around their star with three of them within its habitable zone, have fueled hopes of finding potentially habitable environments beyond our solar system.

Led by iREx doctoral student Olivia Lim, the researchers employed the powerful James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to observe TRAPPIST-1 b. Their observations were collected as part of the largest Canadian-led General Observers (GO) program during the JWST’s first year of operations. (This program also included observations of three other planets in the system, TRAPPIST-1 c, g and h.) TRAPPIST-1 b was observed during two transits — the moment when the planet passes in front of its star — using the Canadian-made NIRISS instrument aboard the JWST.

“These are the very first spectroscopic observations of any TRAPPIST-1 planet obtained by the JWST, and we’ve been waiting for them for years” said Lim, the GO program’s principal Investigator.


She and her colleagues used the technique of transmission spectroscopy to peer deeper into the distant world. By analysing the central star’s light after it has passed through the exoplanet’s atmosphere during a transit, astronomers can see the unique fingerprint left behind by the molecules and atoms found within that atmosphere.

‘Just a small subset’

“This is just a small subset of many more observations of this unique planetary system yet to come and to be analysed,” adds René Doyon, Principal Investigator of the NIRISS instrument and co-author on the study. “These first observations highlight the power of NIRISS and the JWST in general to probe the thin atmospheres around rocky planets.”

The astronomers’ key finding was just how significant stellar activity and contamination are when trying to determine the nature of an exoplanet. Stellar contamination refers to the influence of the star’s own features, such as dark spots and bright faculae, on the measurements of the exoplanet’s atmosphere.

The team found compelling evidence that stellar contamination plays a crucial role in shaping the transmission spectra of TRAPPIST-1 b and, likely, the other planets in the system. The central star’s activity can create “ghost signals” that may fool the observer into thinking they have detected a particular molecule in the exoplanet’s atmosphere.

This result underscores the importance of considering stellar contamination when planning future observations of all exoplanetary systems, the sceintists say. This is especially true for systems like TRAPPIST-1, since the system is centred around a red dwarf star which can be particularly active with starspots and frequent flare events.


“In addition to the contamination from stellar spots and faculae, we saw a stellar flare, an unpredictable event during which the star looks brighter for several minutes or hours,” said Lim. “This flare affected our measurement of the amount of light blocked by the planet. Such signatures of stellar activity are difficult to model but we need to account for them to ensure that we interpret the data correctly.”

A range of models explored

Based on their collected JWST observations, Lim and her team explored a range of atmospheric models for TRAPPIST-1 b, examining various possible compositions and scenarios.

They found they could confidently rule out the existence of cloud-free, hydrogen-rich atmospheres — in other words, there appears to be no clear, extended atmosphere around TRAPPIST-1 b. However, the data could not confidently exclude thinner atmospheres, such as those composed of pure water, carbon dioxide, or methane, nor an atmosphere similar to that of Titan, a moon of Saturn and the only moon in the Solar System with its own atmosphere.

These results are generally consistent with previous (photometric, and not spectroscopic) JWST observations of TRAPPIST-1 b with the MIRI instrument. The new study also proves that Canada’s NIRISS instrument is a highly performing, sensitive tool able to probe for atmospheres on Earth-sized exoplanets at impressive levels.

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