Robinson will however remain a non-executive director on the Tshipi board and will oversee a smooth transition to the new CEO.
Uys assumes his post in difficult market circumstances at a time when manganese demand has declined in line with a weakening crude steel industry, at a time when medium grade manganese exports from South Africa have increased approximately ten fold in the last decade.
The free on board (FOB) industry reference price for medium grade semi-carbonate manganese ore has plummeted from US$3.20 per dry manganese ton unit (dmtu) in November 2014 to only $1.32 per dmtu in the last week of November 2015, representing a 59% fall in the US Dollar price of the commodity, and it has continued to drop since then.
The company said in a statement that no medium grade producer can produce manganese profitably at these prices, adding that it is unlikely that the market in 2016 will be able to absorb the current levels of production of South African medium grade manganese ore and hence the oversupply is likely to continue with consequent impact on prices.
Market conditions are accordingly likely to persist for the foreseeable future.
As a result, Tshipi has therefore decided to reduce exports over the course of the next three months by at least 35%, and for 2016 by approximately 30%.
Tshipi has also commenced with a restructuring process and has issued Section 189(3) notices to approximately 60% of its permanent employees. Tshipi seeks to implement a business model which can be sustained under the prevailing market conditions, to the benefit of all its stakeholders, including in particular its employees and labour sending and host communities.
Tshipi has complied with the prescribed Department of Mineral Resources and Department of Labour notifications and has elected to engage with potentially affected employees and trade unions in independently facilitated consultations under the auspices of the CCMA as contemplated in section 189A of the Labour Relations Act.