Shabangu unveils R1bn M14 furnace

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pretoria – Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu today unveiled the R1 billion expansion project at BHP Billiton’s Metalloys manganese smelter in Meyerton, south of Johannesburg.

The construction of the so-called M14 furnace commenced in August 2011 and was completed and commissioned in December 2012.

It is currently the largest new investment in the manganese industry in the country and supports government’s initiative of proliferating beneficiation in South Africa, BHP Billiton South Africa said in a statement.

According to BHP Billiton, the construction of M14 furnace has contributed to the expansion of the Metalloys’ production capacity by an additional 81 MVA. The furnace is designed to produce 120 000kt of High Carbon Ferro Manganese (HCFeMn) per annum, and includes improvements to ensure increased reliability, availability and also improved pollution control during the production process.  

Speaking at the unveiling, Shabangu said South Africa was by far the wealthiest mineral jurisdiction in the world.

She said manganese was one of the minerals that the country had significant proven reserves, although exploitation of the mineral has not been reflective of its development potential.

“The traditional focus on mining and exporting of un-beneficiated minerals can’t continue without being addressed.

“The government’s industrialisation policy calls for a paradigm shift in mineral development, strategic investment in assets to maximise long term growth beneficiation projects, enhanced value of exports, increased sources for consumption of local content, and creation of opportunities for sustainable jobs,” she said.

Shabangu commended BHP Billiton for being one of the companies that were contributing to the green economy.

“As government, we welcome what you are doing,” she said, adding that South Africa’s economy still needed to grow.

She said mining should be about creating jobs and contributing to skills development.

“We are a country that consists of young people and that reflects the future of the country.”

Shabangu said mining was a long term investment.

The M14 furnace will also contribute additional carbon monoxide (CO) gas to the onsite power generation plant for additional power output, thus raising the energy self-sufficiency level from the current base.

Tom Schutte, the Global President of BHP Billiton Manganese, said the company had been developing and contributing to the industry, communities and economies around the world.

He said more 80 percent of the high grade manganese resources of the world were in the Northern Cape.

“Every one of the major and minor commodities of the world today has some degree of South African influence and we are proud of this achievement,” he said.

Schutte said BHP Billiton was one of the world’s largest diversified mining company.

“We have operations and assets in over 100 locations across 25 countries globally, and over 100 000 employees and contractors.

“We are a multi listed company with a London, New York, Australian and South African listing on the JSE, and we are among the world’s top producers of major commodities including, iron ore, metallurgical coal, conventional and non-conventional oil and gas, copper, energy coal, aluminium, manganese, uranium and silver,” said Schutte. –