Zimbabwe receives bid to revive ethanol plant

Sep 21, 2005 02:00 AM

The Zimbabwe government has intensified efforts to resuscitate the ethanol plant at Triangle near Chiredzi to cushion the country against high international oil prices, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Energy and Power Development Minister Retired Lieutenant-General Michael Nyambuya, who toured the plant, said his visit to Triangle was inspired by the crucial role that the company played in developing the country. He said his visit was aimed at familiarising with the situation on the ground and to discuss with the management at Triangle on the possibility of reopening the ethanol plant, which would produce ethanol for blending with petrol.

Triangle stopped the production of ethanol for blending with petrol during the 1992 drought when the company could not produce enough sugarcane for ethanol production. However, currently, the company was producing about 30 mm litres of industrial ethanol for export.
Triangle has said it would have to make some alterations on its plant to resume producing ethanol for blending with petrol as before.

Rtd. Lt-General Nyambuya said negotiations would continue with Triangle on the reopening of the ethanol plant, which he said would be reopened, once an agreement with the company was sealed.
"My visit is part of an ongoing familiarisation tour with those sectors of the economy which are related to energy and power development.”
“Triangle plays a very crucial role in power development and the company was involved in blending petrol with ethanol from 1980 until 1992 when they shelved the programme. We are here to look at the possibility of reopening the plant in the wake of high oil prices on the international market. The main aim is to find alternative sources of energy so that we do not stretch the little foreign currency that we have," he said.

Rtd. Lt-General Nyambuya added that he was happy with the negotiations with the Triangle over the resuscitation of the ethanol plant saying there was a meeting of minds on the matter. The Minister said there was still a lot of work that needed to be done especially on the ethanol plant where imported spare parts where required to fine-tune the plant to start producing the product. He also revealed that Government was also exploring ways on how best to assist low-veld sugarcane growing companies to increase their output to enable them to produce more ethanol.
"The sugarcane growing companies also generate electricity on their own using bio-gas from sugarcane fibre, hence we need to look at the situation closely with a view to increase the quantities of the sugarcane crop which is grown here," he said.

The Triangle Agricultural-planning director, Mr Farai Musikavanhu, said the ethanol plant needed to undergo rehabilitation before commencing production of ethanol for blending with petrol.
Mr Musikavanhu said they were currently producing industrial ethanol, which was being exported and said they would consider venturing into ethanol for fuel production if the pricing structure made the venture viable.

Source: The Herald
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