Steel manufacturer asks govt to moderate export of  iron ore 

Mr Sanjay Awasthi, the chairman of Tembo Steels (in white shirt) addresses Fourth Year Makerere University students of mechanical engineering at the factory in Iganga District last week. PHOTO/PHILIP WAFULA

What you need to know:

  • Whereas Mbale has a lot of iron ore, Mr Sanjay Awasthi says, it contains impurities of close to 11 percent, which can’t be processed easily 

A steel manufacturers has said they, as an industry, are concerned by the current state of iron ore in the country, warning of scarcity if exportation of the mineral is not moderated. 

Speaking in an interview, Mr Sanjay Awasthi, the Tembo Steels chairman, told Monitor that whereas Mbale has a lot of iron ore, it contains impurities of close to 11 percent, which can’t be processed easily, noting that the hematite iron ore in Kabale, is not in abundance either and lacks ‘hardness’.

The hardness of iron ore is technically referred to as Tumbler Index or TI.

“The TI of hematite iron ore is low which is a problem; and if ore which is having huge TI is being exported, then we are left with that of low TI and low-grade, which will be a real problem for Uganda,” he said, noting that majority of people in Uganda deal in secondary and tertiary steel, so the value addition criteria doesn’t meet the country’s requirements.

However, he said, Tembo Steels was riding on its capacity to diversify, which has widened its portfolio and product mix. 

Tembo Steels had also last week hosted at least 50 Makerere University mechanical engineering students. 

Mr Peter Olupot, a senior lecturer at Makerere University, who led the students, said students must appreciate processes in different aspects of engineering such generating iron from iron ore.

“Tembo Steels is the only company for now which is having this technology of reducing iron oxide to iron, and it is one of the courses we teach in mechanical engineering because we use a lot of steel,” he said.