Kudumane Manganese Resources (KMR) launched its new manganese mine in South Africa in May with plans to start production towards the end of 2012. KMR plans to produce 1 Mt/a (1.1 million st) of manganese at its new US$191.6 million mine and later build a plant to process the metal, its chief executive said.
It will start as an open-cast operation, and the privately held company plans to move operations underground as it ramps up to 2.5 Mt/a (2.75 million stpy) within four to five years, Reuters reported.
KMR also plans to build a sintering plant, which will process manganese ore into a higher-grade product. Manganese is used in the production of steel.
“Within three months of starting production, we will start the feasibility study on the sintering plant,” CEO Sechaba Letaba said. “That gives us an opportunity to upgrade the lower-grade ores so when we send them out it will be at a better manganese grade.”
There are plans for listing KMR in three to four years time, he added.
South Africa is home to nearly 80 percent of the world’s manganese reserves, but the development of the industry has been hampered due to infrastructure bottlenecks. At the moment South Africa produces less than 20 percent of global supply.
Letaba said KMR will initially transport ore by trucks to port, from where it will be shipped overseas.
State-owned Transnet is building a new manganese export terminal at the Ngqura deep-water port in the Eastern Cape province, which from 2016 will have an initial capacity of 12 Mt (13.2 million st).
KMR is a joint venture between two black empowerment firms, Dirleton Minerals and Energy and the Northern Cape Manganese Company, which own equal shares in the firm.
Hong Kong-based Asia Minerals Ltd (AML) holds a 49 percent stake in each firm and is the technical and marketing partner in the project.