South Africa is the second largest producer in the world, after Australia, contributing about 23% – 30% of global production. Of this, 90% accounted for ilmenite production, with rutile the remaining 10%. Ilmenite, zircon and rutile are the main minerals produced from the extensive beach placer deposits located along the eastern, southern and northeastern coasts of South Africa. Smaller deposits are located on the west coast of South Africa, north of Cape Town.
Richards Bay Minerals (RBM), which is jointly owned by BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, is the largest titanium slag producer in the world. Annual production of titanium slag exceeds 1 Mt per year. RBM has enormous reserves along the KwaZulu Natal coastlines situated along the eastern coast of South Africa with mining reserves estimated at lasting around 20 years at current production rates.
Anglo American’s Namakwa Sands is also a big player. Namakwa Sands’ R 942 million Brand se Baai mine and Saldanha Bay smelter facility produces 250 000 tons a year of titanium slag as well as pig iron, zircon and rutile from reserves of avout 500 Mt. The company announced the approval of its R1.13 billion second phase in 1997 which extende total heavy minerals output to 530,000 tons a year by 2001 by constructing a second ilmenite smelting furnace at Saldanha. Titanium slag output will increase from the 97,000 tons per year to 235,000 tons per year. Brand se Baai reserves are more than 500 million tons.
Kumba Resources (South African steel giant, ISCOR’s unbundled mining arm) has been evaulating several properties throughout South Africa. Kumba operates a mine and smelter near the town of Empangeni. In the year ended 30 June 2003, Kumba’s subsidiary, Ticor Ltd, produced 91 000 t of ilmenite and 53 000 t of zircon and 20 000 t if rutile.
Southern Mining Corporation has the rights to the Bothaville heavy mineral occurrence, which has estimated reserves of up to 90Mt. The total inferred resource is estimated in excess of 185 million tonnes, with possible in situ heavy mineral reserves in excess of 50 million tonnes, based on an estimated heavy mineral grade of 30%. Of this, an estimated 40 million tonnes comprises the in situ valuable heavy minerals which, at a 75% recovery, should yield 30 million tonnes of valuable heavy minerals. The composition of these heavy minerals is estimated to be ilmenite (68%), zircon (9%), other titaniferous minerals (23%), Monazite (<1%).
Australian listed Mineral Commodities Ltd has entered into an agreement to earn a 49% interest in the Xolobeni Project located along the Transkei Coast. Previous studies have delineated an inferred resource containing 88 Mt grading 10% heavy minerals. Mineral Commodities has signed a MoU with the East London Development Zone Corporation (ELDZC) for the establishment of an ilmenite smelter at East London.
Anglo American plc
Anglo American’s only heavy mineral mining and beneficiating facilities are located north of Cape Town on the west coast of South Africa. Namakwa Sands is a wholly owned operations that produces zircon, rutile and titanium oxide slag.
BHP Billiton Limited
BHP Billiton has a 50% interest in Richards Bay Minerals (RBM), one of the world’s largest producers of titanium dioxide slag. RBM is located along the northern coast of Kwa Zulu Natal.
Namakwa Sands (Pty) Ltd
Richards Bay Minerals
Rio Tinto Plc
Rio Tinto hasa 50% interest in Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) located in KwaZulu Natal. RBM produces titanium from ilmenite, zircon and rutile beach palcer deposits.