JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – South Africa’s Minerals Minister Susan Shabangu will open the new expansion project at BHP Billiton’s Metalloys manganese smelter in Meyerton, south of Johannesburg, on Wednesday.
The nigh-R1-billion expansion project is currently the largest new investment in the manganese industry in the country and supports government’s initiative of proliferating beneficiation in South Africa, says BHP Billiton South Africa in a media release.
Metalloys, one of the largest alloy plants in the world, is backed by 80% of the world’s high-grade manganese reserves in South Africa’s Kalahari basin.
The so-called M14 furnace, which will not be consuming more electricity than before the project, will also contribute additional carbon monoxide gas to the onsite power generation plant, for additional power output, thus raising the energy self-sufficiency level from the current base and reducing the site's carbon footprint.
It is one of two projects that diversified major BHP Billiton is investing in in South Africa, the company’s South Africa chairperson Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi has announced.
BHP Billiton is also undertaking a geophysical survey to assess the hydrocarbon potential of two areas offshore of South Africa’s West Coast, where the company is the holder of petroleum exploration rights north-west of Cape Town, which will be the port of mobilisation, demobilisation and resupply for support vessels.
The group is a producer of aluminium on Southern Africa’s east coast at the Hillside smelter, which was commissioned in 1994, and the Bayside smelter, which was commissioned in 1971. Its Mozal aluminium smelter in neighbouring Mozambique was commissioned in 2001.
Together, the smelters employ more than 3 200 people and a further 2 800 contractors.
BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa (Becsa) is South Africa’s fourth-biggest coal producer with collieries at Khutala, Klipspruit, Wolvekrans and Middelburg, and the Becsa coal processing plant.
It has spawned black-economic empowerment coal companies like Eyesizwe, today Exxaro, and Optimum, now in the Glencore group.
Mkhwanazi says that through direct sales of these assets in empowerment transactions, Becsa more than meets the transformation requirements of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act and the Mining Charter.
The company’s manganese business has interests in the Hotazel manganese mines in the Northern Cape, the Mamatwan opencast mine and the Wessels underground mine.