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Assmang closes ferromanganese smelters

ARM’s Nkomati
Nickel Mine
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 19 December 2008 – Assmang Limited – which is jointly controlled by African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) and Assore Limited – has decided to shut down three high carbon ferromanganese furnaces at its Cato Ridge works as of 25 December 2008.

In a statement released here, Assmang attributed the decision to close the furnaces to the extensive cutbacks in carbon steel production, particularly in Europe and North America. The company’s smelter would then be operating three furnaces, which equates to approximately 60% of capacity.

The statement added that Cato Ridge Alloys (Pty) Limited (50% owned by Assmang) had also made the decision to shut down its production of medium carbon ferromanganese with immediate effect.

Assmang said the market would be closely monitored to evaluate when the idle capacity could be re-started.

About eight weeks ago, ARM – a major producer of platinum, chrome and nickel in SouthAfrica – announced that it was closing two ferrochrome furnaces in the country as a result of weakening demand.

“The change in global demand has necessitated a review of the production schedules of Assmang’s chrome division and Nkomati chrome operations” the company said, “and to achieve the necessary reduction in volume the following actions have been taken:

Assmang has switched-out two of its ferrochrome furnaces at the Machadodorp works until demand recovers. Dwarsrivier will continue mining and review the situation on an ongoing basis.
Nkomati expects to reduce chrome ore and concentrate sales, will continue mining the chrome as part of the pre-stripping of the pits for the Nkomati Nickel large scale expansion, and will stockpile the chrome ore.

The statement added that ARM, together with its partners, would review the situation on all operations on an ongoing basis, taking cognisance of the uncertain market conditions.