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BOC Gases (Zimbabwe)’s plans to construct a carbon dioxide factory at Green Fuel Ethanol plant in Chisumbanje remains much alive, but this may take longer due to foreign currency shortages, according to its managing director Mr Edson Padya.
About US$20 million is needed to construct the plant to purify carbon dioxide, a by-product in ethanol production, which can then be used in the production of beverages.
Zimbabwe is currently importing the product from BOCs’ sister company in South Africa, expending the much needed foreign currency.
“It is a project that we are interested in,” said Mr Padya.
“However our biggest challenge is the forex needed to undertake the project and this will delay the project.”
BOC, a unit of Linde Group, the leading supplier of different types of gases including medical and industrial, mooted plans to construct the plant about four years ago.
Reports also indicate that companies like Coca Cola, the country’s largest soft drinks maker had also similar plans.
Mr Padya said the project remains one of the company’s priorities but would only proceed when the environment improves.
“To think of undertaking the project at the moment; given prevailing foreign currency shortages is unrealistic,” said Mr Padya.
“As the company, just like many other local companies, we are actually struggling to access foreign currency to sustain our operations.
“However, it is a project that we are much interested in but foreign currency is the most inhibiting factor.”
It is understood that Green Fuel, a joint venture between state-owned Agricultural and Rural Development Authority and Madcom Investments, has also been looking for local partners to build the carbon dioxide plant in Chisumbanje.
SADC relies on South Africa for its carbon dioxide requirements and if the BOC plant comes online, there is potential for Zimbabwe to be an exporter of the product.
It is estimated that Green Fuel has potential to produce 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide per day.
BOC mainly provides packaged gas, chemicals and related products and services. The gases involved are typically delivered in high pressure cylinders and range from technical grades to high purity specialty gases.