HOTAZEL (miningweekly.com) – Black-empowered Kalagadi Manganese expects to start producing manganese ore at its maiden mine in South Africa’s Northern Cape within the next year, as a precursor to a larger R11-billion integrated mine, sinter plant, smelter project that is scheduled to be completed in 2013.
The mine, which is currently being developed, would be ramped up to three-million tons a year and feed a 2,4-million-ton-a-year high-grade sinter plant, as well as a 320 000 t/y high-carbon ferromanganese plant, to be located at the country’s newest deep-water harbour in the Eastern Cape.
This would make Kalagadi Manganese the first black and women-owned company in the world to build a mine, sinter and smelter operation.
The company’s business model shows it would deliver revenue of between R11-billion and R12-billion during 2013, or when the smelter at the Coega industrial development zone becomes operational, chairperson Daphne Mashile-Nkosi told Mining Weekly Online during a visit to the mine site on Tuesday.
Initially, the plan was to start the smelter at the same time as the mine and sinter plant, both of which are located close to Hotazel, but the schedule was affected by the need to secure new regulatory approvals.
Mashile-Nkosi explained that the smelter was always planned to be located at Coega, but it has now been given the site previously earmarked for the high-profile Rio Tinto Alcan aluminium smelter, which was shelved in light of South Africa’s power shortages. This resulted in Kalagadi Manganese having to obtain new environmental approvals, delaying its smelter development by about a year.
The company also experienced problems with shaft sinking, resulting in a delay of three months at the mine, while a new contractor was sought. However, Mashile-Nkosi assured that this would not affect the company’s the June 2012 ore and sinter production schedule.
The Kalagadi mine was the last of eight manganese mining licences awarded in the Northern Cape area under South Africa’s “use it or lose it” policy. But it would be the second to start production and the only project, to date, with beneficiate plans.
Attending a mine visit, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said that Kalagadi was a model for how South Africa’s mining policies should be implemented.
The Minister said that the project was aligned with government’s transformation and equity policies, as well as its drive for greater beneficiation of South African raw minerals.
South Africa has 80% of South Africa’s manganese, but currently does not have a very big secondary market.
Kalagadi Manganese’s sinter plan would produce 2,4-million ton a year of product, which would be railed to the Port Elizabeth smelter where some 320 000 t, high-carbon ferromanganese.
Nkosi boldly stated that if the company successfully managed production at three-million tons of ore a year, it would not be hesitant to sink a second shaft to essentially double production to six-million tons a year, with the necessary support. “We have 960-million tons of ore on our three properties, nothing stops us to build another shaft and to increase production,” she added.