JOHANNESBURG South Africa is on track to become an exporter of chrome ore, rather than ferrochrome, Gerhard Pariser, director of research at Heinz H. Pariser Alloy Metals & Steel Market Research GbR, told AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.
However, this doesnt mean that South African ferrochrome production will vanish, he said on the sidelines of Metal Bulletins Chromite Conference in Johannesburg Sept. 17.
"The question will rather be what market share South African ferrochrome can retain," Pariser added.
Chrome ore exports from South Africa have increased to about 50 percent of the countrys chrome over the past 10 years from about 12 percent and beneficiated chrome supply to market, he told delegates during a presentation.
China has taken almost 80 percent of chrome ore globally traded, according to current data, Pariser said.
"South Africa is supplying and China is buying," he said, adding that the largest increase in chrome ore sales from South Africa was from UG2 sales, up almost 46 percent over the past 10 years.
There has been an 18.5-percent increase in ore exports from integrated ferrochrome producers over the past 10 years, as well as a 31.8-percent increase in exports from independent mines over the past decade, Pariser said.
As chrome ore flowing into China translates into growing ferrochrome output there, South Africas ferrochrome output is decreasing.
"Todays reality shows ore and concentrate supply to be more profitable than ferrochrome," Pariser said.
"The question of what model South Africa will adopt has been looming the past five years, but hasnt been answered. What we see as analysts, looking at data and talking to people, are signs pointing to South Africa becoming an ore supplier," he added.
A version of this article was first published in AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.