JSE-listed Merafe Resources’ attributable ferrochrome production from the Glencore Merafe chrome venture for the fourth quarter and the year ended December 31, 2020, decreased by about 8% and 29%, respectively.
Attributable ferrochome production in the fourth quarter was 97 000 t, bringing the full-year total to 265 000 t, 106 000 t lower than that produced in 2019.
As previously reported, the company attributes this decrease to cutbacks in production in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, market conditions and electricity disruptions.
Merafe’s production numbers speak to the struggles that South Africa’s ferrochrome industry is facing, which has previously been described as “being under existential threat”.
Despite this, however, Mining Weekly reported in November that the industry has committed to supporting new junior anthracite miners, pre-financing already approved reductant projects, lowering dependence on imported metallurgical coal by encouraging local production and providing more competitive pricing to local ferrochrome consumers than export customers.
In November, the existential threat to South Africa’s struggling ferrochrome industry, which has 6 851 direct employees, was extended to upstream mines as the country’s ferrochrome smelters are the largest local consumers of anthracite and metallurgical coal.
The industry’s support of another 68 000 jobs is also in danger, thereby threatening a R41-billion contribution to the country’s gross domestic product and R14-billion to State-owned power utility Eskom.