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Assmang plans manganese alloys smelter in Malaysia

Keywords: Tags  Assmang, Assore, African Rainbow Minerals, ARM, Sumitomo, China Steel, ferromanganese, manganese Bianca Markram

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s Assmang Ltd. plans to build a 3-billion-rand ($294.8-million) manganese alloys smelter in Malaysia.

Assmang, which is owned jointly by Sandton, South Africa-based African Rainbow Minerals Ltd. (ARM) and Johannesburg-based Assore Ltd., plans to start construction of the 169,000-tonne-per-year smelter in the first quarter of 2014. It will work with two Asian joint-venture partners, Tokyo-based Sumitomo Corp. and Kaohsiung, Taiwan-based China Steel Corp., on the project (, June 19), which will produce high-carbon ferromanganese when it is commissioned in 2016, the company said.

Furnaces typically used in a manganese alloys smelter also are capable of smelting silicomanganese, but an ARM spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Assmang would also produce this alloy. She said that the partners were still hammering out the details.

"The driving factors for selecting Malaysia as a location for the smelter was the proximity of it to the Asian market, which is a growing market," she told AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin. The availability of "reasonably priced" hydroelectricity also was a strong consideration for setting up a smelter in the region, she added.

China Steel will invest $62.5 million in the project, giving it a 19-percent interest and the right to buy 30,000 to 32,000 tonnes of alloys per year from the project.

Assmang has existing ferromanganese smelting facilities in South Africa, after converting its ferrochrome smelters to produce more ferromanganese.

The latest move is in contrast to the South African government’s initiatives to encourage more beneficiation locally (, Sept. 24).

Hong Kong-based Asia Minerals Ltd. also is building a smelter in Malaysia, which will receive manganese ore from its Kudumane Mine in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. A number of new manganese mines have sprouted up in the province, but none has built a smelter in South Africa.

Rivonia, South Africa-based Kalagadi Manganese (Pty) Ltd. is planning to build a smelter in the Coega Industrial Park, but the company has yet to obtain funding for the project.

A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.

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