When South Africa’s electricity prices were competitive, a lot of high-energy infrastructure was established. But many furnaces and smelters had to be put on care-and-maintenance after Eskom’s electricity tariffs surged by more than 500% in ten years.
Now, clean competitively priced electricity is there for the taking, and every effort should be made to reopen those capitalised facilities. African Rainbow Minerals, for one, is redoing its sums around the possible revival of its domestic ferromanganese production, which was forced to go offshore when local electricity prices went through the roof.
With self-generation now permitted and electricity ‘wheeling’ arrangements gaining momentum, local manganese beneficiation is taking on a more economically feasible hue, augmented by renewable energy bringing with it the environmental protection that the world is demanding, and also the prospect of attracting even higher prices for what are already value-add products.