Making steel plates. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Iron and Steel Industry:Advantages of ZISCO’s current location

We are well aware that some information in this topic is outdated. It has been provided for exam preparation purposes.

  • The steel works known as Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO) (then known as RISCO, the Rhodesia Iron and Steel Company) started in 1938.
  • It was located in Bulawayo as a subsidiary of the South African company called Stewarts and Lloyd.
  • They produced their first 3 tonnes of steel the same year but shifted location a decade later in 1948 to the present site at Redcliff after the discovery of low-grade iron ore called limonite in the area at Ripple Creek.
  • Other raw materials such as manganese and limestone at the Dan and Mel mines were also discovered in the area, meaning that only coking coal from Hwange and high grade haemotite from Mt. Buchwa had to be hauled long distances to Redcliff.
  • The present site therefore became the least transport cost location point within the Zimbabwean space economy to assemble required raw materials and market the products throughout the country.
  • The company was and still remains a strategic industry in the country heavily dependent on government subsidies for its survival.
  • In fact, government until recently has been the major shareholder in the company, declaring it as a parastatal as it is the only steel works in the country.

Advantages of the present location of ZISCO

  • The steel work is centrally located in the country to distribute products easily.
  • An efficient rail and road network passing through the area making the steel works very accessible.
  • The lowering of assembly costs for raw materials and marketing costs for finished products.
  • The presence of a large pool of labour with industrial metallurgical skills shared with other heavy metal industries in the central Midlands Province such ZIMASCO, Lancashire Steel, Tor Structures, Industrial Pipe and Fittings. The Zimbabwe Wire and Rope Company all in Kwekwe and ZIM ALLOYS and ZIMCAST in Gweru.
  • Availability of large expanses of flat and uninhabited land.
  • Presence of large water supplies from Cactus Poort Dam on the Kwekwe River.

To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page