Anglo American announced that it had acquired a 9.6% interest in Kumba Resources with the option to acquire a further 20.9%. In September 2003 Anglo’s interest in rose Kumba rose above 35% following the approval of the competition authorities. Kumba has been benefitting from Chinese demand – exporting an annual 20Mt of iron ore of which 9Mt goes to China. In 2003 35,778,633 t of haematite were produced as well as 2,307,222t of magnetite and 39,941t of lead metal in concentrstes.
South Africa has 9 billion tons of iron ore reserves, of which 45% is located in the Northern Cape, adjacent to the massive Kalahari manganese field. South Africa is Africa’s largest iron ore producer and is dominated by the South African Iron and Steel Company, Iscor. Following Iscor’s unbundling in 2001, Kumba Resources has emerged as the new vehicle for Iscor’s mining aspirations. Iscor Ltd retains its name as the iron and steel producer, producing both flat and long steel products from its facilities at Vanderbijlpark, Saldanha, Vereeniging and Newcastle. Kumba produces approximately 28 Mt/year from its two mining operations at Sishen in the Northern Cape and Thabazimbi in the Northern Province. Thabazimbi generally provides iron ore (2 389 000 tonnes in 2003) for Iscor Limited’s steelworks in Vanderbijlpark and Newcastle, whilst the bulk of Sishen’s production is exported via the Saldanha – Sishen railway to the West Coast port facility of Saldanha Bay. Rail capacity of the Sishen – Saldanha line is to be boosted to 38 Mt by the year 2010.
Sishen is a large open cast operation with pit dimensions of 12km by 1.5 km at an average depth of 375m. At current production, the mine has a life of mine of 40 years, although the mine is undergoing a $90 million expansion project to increase production from its current 24 Mt to 27 Mt by 2010. It aims to do so through the exploitation of the Welgevonden deposit (now called Sishen South), located 60km south of the existing mine at Sishen. Sishen South is anticipated to begin production in 2006, adding an additional 2 – 3 Mt to the anticipated Sishen output of 25 Mt.
Assmang is South Africa’s second biggest iron ore producer and has a single iron ore mine at Beeshoek, which has recently been expanded onto a neighbouring property, Olynfontein. This expansion has extended the life of mine to an additional 14 years. Assmang’s export production is earmarked to reach 5.5 Mt (out of an anticipated 6 Mt total), with a view to expand production to 10 Mt by 2010. Assmang’s current operations are well positioned to take advantage of its proximity to the Sishen – Saldanha rail link. In 2003 the company reported a decrease of 97% in first half profit due to a stronger rand. Net income for the six months ended December 2003 fell to R4,1 million from R137,5 million.
Highveld Steel and Vanadium operate an iron ore mine at Mapochs.
Assmang operate the Beeshoek iron ore operations, located in the northern Cape, near Sishen.
Kumba Resources Ltd
Kumba is South Africa’s and Africa’s largest iron producer and exporter, operating facilities at Sishen and Thabazimbi.