UNIVERSAL Mining and Chemical Industries Limited (UMCIL) intends to increase production to 500,000 tonnes of steel annually by 2019 from the current 100,000 tonnes.
Meanwhile, UMCIL has shut some of its machinery because it has a challenge of raw materials.
UMCIL managing director Biswajeet Chowdhury attributes the increase in production to the planned opening of Sanje Iron Ore Mine in Nampundwe and Nambala in Mumbwe.
“We have a plan that by 2019, we will increase producing from 100,000 tonnes to 500,000 tonnes annually and a further one million tonnes annually by 2022,” Mr Chowdhury said when Minister of Mine, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma toured the Universal Mining and Chemical Industries Limited recently.
On the challenges, he said the company is not getting enough scrap metal from local source, which has reduced its production to 5,000 tonnes from 10,000 tonnes per month.
Mr Chowdhury also said the firm has a lot of stock in storage due to lack of market for the steel locally despite the products being certified by Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) and South Africa Bureau of Standards (SABS).
He said even though the construction sector is booming, both Government and the private contractors prefer imported steel.
He said the firm is also faced with the challenge of raw materials, which has resulted in the plant being under-utilised as it has higher production capacity.
During the tour, Mr Yaluma said Government will endeavour to support the development of the steel industry.
He said the shortage of raw materials has prohibited the firm from expanding its production hence Government will look into the matter to address the concern.
“As Zambians, we must protect our local products. Statistics indicate that there is more foreign steel in the country,” he said.