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Assmang to shut down furnace

The new furnace
at Assmang’s
Machadodorp works
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 19 November 2009 – Assmang Limited “’ South Africa’s second-largest manganese producer “’ intends switching off the No. 5 furnace at its Machadodorp works at the end of the month because of a lack of demand, before reviewing the market again in February.

“The stainless steel market started showing signs of picking up, but there’s not enough demand,” executive director Jan Steenkamp said in a mobile phone interview with Bloomberg News. “The Machadodorp plant will operate at 70% capacity after the closing,” he added.

“Two other furnaces at Assmang’s Cato Ridge site will stay closed because of refurbishment, rather than the demand shortage,” said Steenkamp, who is also ferrous division CEO at African Rainbow Minerals Limited, which owns half of Assmang. “Cato Ridge will boost capacity use to 70 % in January from its current 65%,” he added.

Bloomberg reports that steelmakers are resuming output at shuttered plants from the U.S. to Russia and China, as the world economy recovers from its slump and customers in autos and construction rebuild stocks. The World Steel Association says the global market has bottomed out and demand will grow 9.2% next year as consumption rebounds in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

Assmang produces ferromanganese and ferrochrome, used to make steel resistant to corrosion.

Hernic Ferrochrome Limited “’ a South African rival to Assmang that shut furnaces late last year “’ has restarted two to meet improving demand.