South Africa is the world’s largest producer of ferrochrome. The country holds about 70% of the world’s total chrome reserves, most of it derived from the Bushveld Igneous Complex (BIC) ores, and produces 75% of the wold’s ferrochrome. Zimbabwe and Kazakhstan are other major producers. Combined with Zimbabwe, Southern Africa has 90% of global chromite reserves and produces 50% of the world’s chromite ore.
Chromite is mined primarily from the UG2, and LG and MG chromitite seams of which the UG2 also contains significant amounts of PGE’s. Thus several platinum mines produce chromite as a by product. There are several primary chrome mines, specifically maintained to provide chromite feed to the developing ferrochrome industry. Most of South Africa’s chrome mines are developed along the Eastern BIC, in the Steelpoort Valley.
South Africa produced an estimated 7,417,329 t of chromium ore in 2003. Samancor is the world’s largest integrated ferrochrome producer. It operates two chrome mines, producing 1.1 Mt of ferrochrome annually. Samancor also has significant manganese operations in South Africa.
Samancor operates the Eastern Chrome Mines, which comprises seven mines; Jardlust, Montrose, Doornbosch, Steelpoort, Annex Grootboom and Tweefontein. The Western Chrome Mines are located near Mooinooi on the western limb of the BIC in the Northwest province. Western Chrome mines comprises of five mining operations, the Waterkloof, Buffelsfontein, Elandsfontein, Millsell and Mooinooi mines. The total combined ore reserves exceed 450 million tons, calculated to a depth of 300 metres, with an annual production capacity of more than 4 Mt.
Samancor’s total chromite resources exceed 1,8 billion tons and are expected to support current mining activity for well over 200 years at current rates of extraction. While some ore is exported, more than 80% is converted into three grades of ferrochrome (charge chrome, intermediate-carbon ferrochrome, and low-carbon ferrochrome).
Other major producers include Swiss based Xstrata that have operations in the Northwest province at Kroondal, Rustenburg and Wonderkop. A production joint venture between Xstrata and Samancor has been established at the Wonderkop ferrochrome facility, which will see an annual production of 180 000t ferrochrome per year.The Thorncliffe mine near Lydenburg is also owned and operated by Xstrata. Thornecliff produces chromite as feed to Xstrata’s Consolidated Metallurgical Industries (CMI) facilities in Lydenburg.
Associated Manganese Mines (Assmang), a subsidiary of Avmin, have recently commissioned the new Dwarsrivier chrome mine in the eastern BIC, near Lydenburg. Dwarsrivier is expected to supply metallurgical grade ore to Avmin’s Feralloys facility situated in Machadodorp, Mpumalanga. Production at Feralloys is expected to double capacity following a R1.2 billion expansion.
In March 2003, SA Chrome announced a feasibility study to increase its ferrochrome production rate by 500 000 t in order to serve Chinese stainless steel maker, Jinquan Iron & Steel. India’s Tata Steel also announced plans to build a ferrochrome production facility near Richards Bay in order to import chrome ore from India for processing into ferrochrome. In February 2004 Xstrat and SA Chrome & Alloys announced sa merger to create the world’s largest individual ferrochrome producer. The merger will give SA Chrome a black empowerment company with an initial capacity of 1.45 Mt/y of ferrochrome, representing 26% of global capacity.
ASA Metals (Pty) Ltd, Chrometco Limited, International Ferro Metals South Africa (Pty) Limited, KDB Trading, Samancor Limited, Assmang Limited, Chrome International South Africa (Pty), Chromex Mining (Pty) Ltd, Hernic Ferrochrome (Pty) Ltd, Kermas South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Merafe Resources Ltd, RK1 Consortium, Royal Bafokeng Resources Holdings (Pty) Ltd, Samancor Chrome, Xstrata Alloys South Africa, Xstrata South Africa, Xstrata-Merafe Chrome Venture
Afrikaner Lease, Agnes, Alpha Anthracite, Amandelbult, Arnot Colliery, Arthur Taylor Colliery, Arthur Taylor Opencast Mine (ATCOM), Atok, Avontuur, Bafokeng North, Bafokeng Rasimone, Baken, Balgarthan Colliery, Bambanani, Bank, Bankfontein Opencast, Barbrook, Beatrix, Beeshoek, Bellsbank
Assmang operate the Dwarsrivier chrome mine, located near Lydenburg, Mpumalanga.
BHP Billiton Limited
Samancor, in which BHP Billiton has a 60% interest, produces chromite from its two main operational centers (Eastern and Western Chrome) in the Bushveld Igneous Complex.
Hernic Ferrochrome (Pty) Ltd
Hernic operate a chrome mining facility near Brits in the North West Province of South Africa
Xstrata South Africa
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