The company is 60% owned by a Chinese company, with the rest of the shareholding being held by the Northern Province Development Corporation.
Pyromet Technologies, of Johannesburg, is supplying the technology and equipment as part of a turnkey contract awarded to the company, says business development director Chris Oertel.
His company is designing, supplying, erecting and commissioning the furnace, and handling the raw-materials handling, off-gas cleaning, as well as hot-metal handling.
The furnace, which is under construction, is a 38 MW submerged-arc furnace.
The project began in early December last year.
All work is expected to be completed by the end of January next year.
Oertel relates that Pyromet has done work for ASA Metals before, completing a furnace in 1998, in what was then a greenfields turnkey project.
Oertel says that ASA Metals’ use of Pyromet for the second furnace serves as confirmation of the success of the first furnace, which is one of the lowest-cost producers in South Africa.
The furnace employs Pyromet’s patented electrode column, which the company believes has set new standards of reliability and ease of maintenance in the industry.
There are a number of other local and overseas projects that the company is working on he explains.
One of these is a 30 MVA platinum furnace that has been commissioned at Waterval, near Rustenburg, for Anglo Platinum.
Construction of a ferrochrome smelter for a new company known as Transvaal Ferrochrome, near Mooinooi, in North West Province, is due to start later this year.
Although the name, Transvaal Ferrochrome, is as South African as can be, the company is planning to list in Australia, and have local representation.
The value of the project is expected to be about R1-billion.
The smelter will reportedly be a 230 000 t/y ferrochrome producer, an output rivalling that of SA Chrome’s massive smelter in Boshoek, North West Province, says Oertel.
He says the company is currently concentrating on its South African projects, with this country making up the majority of the company’s projects portfolio, and only about 20% of projects outside the country’s borders.
However, the company has been active abroad, including the US, France, Italy, Brazil and India.
Two of its recent foreign projects included completing a ferrochrome smelter in Iran, and a 36 MW cobalt recovery furnace in Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was completed last year.
Oertel tells Mining Weekly that Pyromet concentrates on design, detailed engineering, management and commissioning of furnaces and related applications, and that the company works closely with local producers such as Samancor, Anglo Platinum, Avmin and SA Chrome.
He says the ferrochrome industry has been growing at an impressive rate and Pyromet, which was established in 1984, has been involved in more new furnaces and smelter upgrades than all its competitors combined.
The growth in the ferrochrome industry Oertel links to the growth in the stainless-steel industry in China.
Ferrochrome is an important component of stainless steel, and South Africa holds about 60% of the world’s chrome ore reserves, with about 55% of global ferrochrome output coming from this country. This percentage of world output is expected to continue to increase.
Other countries with significant chrome reserves are Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe, Turkey, India and Finland.