Johannesburg, South Africa — 09 May 2012 – Kudumane Manganese Resources (KMR) plans to start manganese production in South Africa towards the end of 2012, and to build a plant to process the metal at a later stage.
Reuters reports that the company is a joint venture between Dirleton Minerals & Energy and Northern Cape Manganese, and that Hong Kong-based Asia Minerals holds 49% of both companies.
CEO Sechaba Letaba said that KMR was planning to produce 1.5Mtpa of the steelmaking ingredient by the end of 2013; thereafter the company intended increasing production to 2.5Mtpa at its R1.5 billion project near Hotazel, in the Northern Cape.
The mine will start as an open-cast operation, and the privately held company plans to move operations underground as it ramps up to 2.5Mtpa within four to five years. KMR also plans to build a sintering plant, which will process manganese ore into a higher-grade product.
“Within three months of starting production, we will begin with the feasibility study on the sintering plant,” Letaba said. “That gives us an opportunity to upgrade the lower-grade ores so that when we send them out they will be at a better manganese grade.”
He added that there were plans for listing KMR in three to four years time.
South Africa is home to nearly 80% of the world’s manganese reserves, but the development of the industry has been hampered by infrastructure bottlenecks. At the moment South Africa produces less than 20% of global supply.
Letaba said initially KMR would transport ore by truck to port, from where it would be shipped overseas. Discussions were ongoing with logistics group Transnet to secure a port allocation for the initial tonnages.
“We are in discussion, and chances are that we will get a 1Mt allocation,” he revealed.
State-owned Transnet is building a new manganese export terminal at the Ngqura deep-water port in the Eastern Cape, which will provide an initial capacity of 12Mt from 2016.
Source: Reuters. For more information, click here.