Search Results for "Gabon"

BHK Mining Begins Exploration at Ndjole Manganese/Gold Licence in Gabon

BHK Mining Corp. (TSXV:BHK) announced that it has began exploration work at its 2,000 square kilometer Ndjole manganese/gold project in Gabon.

As quoted in the press release:

The Company utilizes a rapid exploration method, using auger drills combined with a handheld XRF unit for accelerated follow-up and semi-quantitative geochemical analysis of the weathered rock material below manganese soil anomalies. At the time of this report a total of 232 auger holes have been drilled and a total of 991 samples collected (See for location maps).

Analysis with the handheld XRF is currently underway and a total of 534 samples including standards and duplicates have been analyzed to date. Handheld XRF is a method that is used to produce reliable manganese analyses. Pits have been excavated at the site of two of the stronger manganese auger results to expose the mineralization in three dimensions.

The auger drill program is designed to test the weathered rock (saprolite) below scree, ferricrete and laterite, which covers much of the target area. The auger drills are capable of drilling to a depth of approximately 10 metres under favourable conditions. The aim of the rapid auger drill program is to produce bedrock manganese targets for subsequent diamond drilling.

Click here to read the full BHK Mining Corp. (TSXV:BHK) press release.

Silver Bull Sells Gabon Asset to BHK Mining

Silver Bull Resources Inc. (TSX:SVB,NYSEMKT:SVBL) announced that BHK Mining Corp. now officially owns Dome International Global Inc., its subsidiary. Dome indirectly holds a 100-percent interest in the Gabon-based Ndjole manganese-gold project.

As quoted in the press release:

Pursuant to the Transaction, BHK acquired all of the issued and outstanding securities of Dome from a wholly-owned subsidiary of Silver Bull for the purchase price of USD$1,500,000, payable in cash, of which USD$25,000 was previously paid as a non-refundable deposit. In addition, BHK reimbursed Silver Bull USD$75,000 for certain expenses related to the completion of the Transaction. Upon completion of the Transaction, Dome became a wholly-owned subsidiary of BHK. In connection with the Transaction, BHK changed its name from BHK Resources Inc. to BHK Mining Corp.

Tim Barry, president and CEO of Silver Bull, commented:

We are very pleased to close the sale of the Project to BHK and we wish them well in their future endeavors in Gabon. Silver Bull remains fully focused on advancing its flagship Sierra Mojada silver-zinc project in Coahuila, Mexico, and the sale of the Ndjole property provides Silver Bull with an additional USD$1.5 million in non-dilutive capital in what remains a very difficult capital markets environment.

Click here to read the full Silver Bull Resources Inc. (TSX:SVB,NYSEMKT:SVBL) press release.

BHP Halts Mining Investment in Gabon

Reuters reported that BHP has put the brakes on mining investment in Gabon, much to the dismay of the government, who had been banking on large-scale iron and manganese projects.

As quoted in the market report:

We respect the decision by BHP to freeze its activities in Gabon,” said a senior official at the mining ministry who asked not to be identified. “At the same time this is a blow to the country, which hoped to become the world’s largest exporter of manganese.

To view the whole Reuters report, click here. 

Ferrex Receives Exploration License in Gabon

Mining Weekly reported that Ferrex has received an exploration lisence in Gabon.

As quoted in the market report:

The company’s other development assets in Africa included the Nayega manganese project, in Togo, which was at the definitive feasibility stage, and the Malelane iron-ore project, in South Africa, where a scoping study has been completed.

To view the full Mining Weekly report, click here.

Gabon Aims to be the World’s Leading Manganese Producer

Gabon Aims to be the World’s Leading Manganese Producer

Gabon is the world’s second-largest producer of manganese, behind South Africa. In 2011, the country churned out 3.5 million metric tons of the metal.

The tiny country, located on the west coast of Africa, is home to just 1.5 million people, but it boasts significant mineral wealth. The US Energy Information Administration estimates that Gabon has 2 billion barrels worth of oil reserves. At one point, the country was the third-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa. It has since fallen to sixth place as oil producers have exhausted fields without finding new production to take their place. However, a national oil firm, Gabon Oil Company, was recently founded to increase the country’s output.

Gabon is also focusing on diversifying away from oil. For example, it’s currently evaluating its Belinga iron ore deposit with the goal of outlining a resource. A concession is expected to be awarded in 2014, and BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP,ASX:BHP,LSE:BLT) is thought to be a leading candidate. Gabon also aims to boost production of its other resources, including diamonds, gold, silver and rare earth elements.

“Gabon presents huge advantages to attract and secure foreign direct investment, including political stability, support sectors like banking, telecoms and energy, and established infrastructure,” mines minister Regis Immongault recently told Mining Weekly.

But despite that relative stability, operating in Gabon does entail some risks. For example, skilled labor is hard to find, wages are higher than in many African nations and infrastructure is still inadequate. The country is also in the process of updating its mining code, which could introduce new taxes on mining firms.

Gabon has South Africa in its sights

Which brings us back to manganese, a sector in which the tiny country has big ambitions. By 2015, it aims to boost its production of the metal, which is used to strengthen steel, to 5.7 million MT a year from a forecast 3.7 million MT in 2012. That would put it ahead of South Africa, which is currently the leading producer.

France’s ERAMET (EPA:ERA) jointly owns Comilog, the world’s second-largest manganese producer, with the Gabonese government. Comilog operates the Moanda mine in the country’s southeast. In November 2005, Comilog obtained a 30-year concession for a railway line that it uses to ship manganese to the port of Owendo. That has allowed the company to ramp up the mine’s production capacity to 3.5 million MT per year.

As well, Comilog is currently working on a manganese processing plant in the country that could produce 85,000 MT a day starting in 2014.

Another potential boost in manganese output could come from a new project by BHP Billiton. The company hasn’t officially commented on this possibility, but in April, Immongault said many aspects of an agreement between the government and the company have been decided upon, and that BHP is considering a mine capable of producing 300,000 MT per year, with a resource large enough to support a mine life of roughly 50 years. This project would be located about 10 kilometers from the town of Franceville.

Vancouver-based junior has high hopes for its Gabonese properties

One junior miner with significant holdings in Gabon is Vancouver-based Silver Bull Resources (AMEX:SVBL,TSX:SVB). The company is mainly focused on its Sierra Mojada silver-zinc project in Mexico, but it also owns the Mitzic iron ore property, located about 180 kilometers northeast of Libreville, the capital city of Gabon, and the 2,000-square-kilometer Ndjole manganese/gold project, located 120 kilometers east of Libreville. Silver Bull recently renewed its licenses for these properties for another three years.

The company recently released the results of its latest drilling at Ndjole, which it has conducted over the past two years. The program included 5,300 meters of diamond drilling, an airborne electromagnetic survey, geological mapping and basin analysis and 20,000 soil samples.

Silver Bull said that three of its drill holes at the northern end of the property intercepted thick manganese mineralization. Highlights include hole NDDD0002, which intercepted 22-percent manganese over 34.5 meters from the surface, including 42 percent over 5 meters, or 33.7 percent over 9 meters from the surface. In addition, the soil samples indicate an anomaly of more than 500 parts per million of manganese in an area of more than 50 square kilometers that remains open to the south and west.

“Within the Ndjole license, we have a huge manganese soil anomaly over 50 square kilometers in area with three near surface high grade drill holes at the very northern end of the anomaly,” said Silver Bull’s president and CEO, Tim Barry, in a press release. “When you consider over 90% of the anomaly still needs to be drilled, coupled with the fact that it sits in the same suite of rocks 25km away from a manganese mine that has just gone into production, and that it lies less than 25 kilometers from a functioning railway, we consider this to be an exciting target that now only needs to be tested with drilling.”


Securities Disclosure: I, Chad Fraser, hold no positions in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

Gabon’s Manganese Output Set to Increase to 5.7-million tons by 2015

Mining Weekly reported that manganese production is going to ramp up in Gabon.

As quoted in the market report:

Immongault said Gabon also planned to increase its manganese production to 5.7-million tons by 2015 from around 3.7-million tons currently, driven by a ramp-up in production from Eramet’s Compagnie Miniere de l’Ogooue (Comilog) and other smaller projects.

To view the whole Mining Weekly report, click here.

Silver Bull Intersects Thick, Near-Surface Manganese in Gabon

Silver Bull Resources Inc. (TSX:SVB,NYSE:SVBL) announced that the work completed at its Ndjole license over the past two years includes the drilling of three holes that intersect thick, near-surface manganese mineralization.

According to the press release, drilling highlights include:

  • NDDD0002: 22% Mn over 34.5m from 0m; including 42% over 5m or 33.7% over 9m from surface.
  • NDDD0001: +11% Mn over 17m from 33m (detection limit for manganese for analysis is 11% – not analyzed for ore grade manganese)
  • NDDD0018: +11% Mn over 7m from 20m (detection limit for manganese for analysis is 11% – not analyzed for ore grade manganese)
Silver Bull’s president and CEO, Tim Barry, commented:
Within the Ndjole license, we have a huge manganese soil anomaly over 50 square kilometers in area with three near surface high grade drill holes at the very northern end of the anomaly. When you consider over 90% of the anomaly still needs to be drilled, coupled with the fact that it sits in the same suite of rocks 25km away from a manganese mine that has just gone into production, and that it lies less than 25 kilometers from a functioning railway, we consider this to be an exciting target that now only needs to be tested with drilling.

Click here to read the full Silver Bull Resources Inc. (TSX:SVB,NYSE:SVBL) press release.

BHP Billiton to Develop Manganese Mine in Gabon

Mining Weekly reported that according to Gabon’s Mines Minister, BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP,LSE:BLT) will meet with the government of Gabon on April 16 to finalize a convention for the development of a manganese mine.

As quoted in the market news:

[The Mines Minister] noted that while much of the convention had already been decided upon, the parties still had to confirm the use of railway capacity for the project.

A spokesperson for BHP Billiton said on Tuesday that the company was unable to comment at this stage, but added that the project was at an advanced stage of feasibility.

The company previously reported that the Gabon mine would be a 300 000 t/y operation, with a resource to support an estimated 50-year life-of-mine.

Click here to read the full Mining Weekly report.

Metalline Appoints Country Manager in Gabon

Metalline Mining Company (TSX:MMZ,AMEX:MMG) announced the appointment of Mr. Luc Stevenin as Country Manager for Gabon in Central West Africa.

The press release is quoted as saying:

Metalline, through its 100% owned subsidiary, Dome Venture’s SARL Gabon owns three 2,000 square kilometer licences inGabon that are highly prospective for gold, manganese, and iron ore.

To read the full press release, click here.

Manganese Ore Prices Jump on Chinese Demand

Platts reported that prices for manganese ore delivered to China rose 12 to 15 percent week-on-week on Friday. The sizable increase came on the back of strong Chinese demand and concerns about supply.

As quoted in the market news:

Platts assessed its weekly 44% manganese ore price at $2.90/dmtu CIF Tianjin on Friday, up from $2.60/dmtu last week. The assessment for 37% manganese ore stood at $2.70/dmtu, up from a $2.35/dmtu, same basis.

Market talk is that Australian 44%-46% lumps are currently being offered at $3-$3.05/dmtu for April shipments, CIF China basis, with Australian fines heard quoted around $2.80/dmtu, multiple market participants agreed Friday.

No offers were heard for Gabon 44% ores on Friday, while quotes for South African ores were pegged around $2.80-$3.00/dmtu for April-May shipments, sources added.

A Shaanxi consumer source said:

It’s madness now, and prices are still on the rise … there are very limited stocks around and the Chinese are scrambling to buy. We heard South Africa’s UMK has no more April stocks and may soon start offering May shipments at above $3.00/dmtu, so anything is possible.

Click here to read the full Platts report.


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10 Top Manganese-producing Countries

Manganese had a tough time in 2015, largely due to China’s economic slowdown. The Asian nation generally requires large amounts of the metal for steelmaking, but with slow growth in China an excess of supply is weighing on the market. 

Case in point: at the beginning of February, South32 (ASX:S32,LSE:S32), the world’s largest producer of manganese, completed a strategic review of its South African manganese assets, announcing, among other things, plans to cut employees and “re-base manganese ore production at a significantly lower level.” Later that month, the company reported a half-year loss of US$1.7 billion — it was connected to writedowns on its manganese and coal businesses.

With such a dominant manganese producer experiencing difficulties, it might seem odd that output of the metal increased in 2015 — worldwide production came to 18 million MT, up slightly from 17.8 million MT in 2014. Here’s a brief overview of the 10 countries that produced the most manganese in 2015. All stats are taken from the US Geological Survey’s most recent report on the metal.

1. South Africa

Mine production: 6.2 million MT

South Africa is the world’s largest producer of manganese by a long shot. In 2015, its output of the metal increased by 1,000 MT, rising from 2014’s 5,200 MT to 6,200 MT. The country also holds the largest reserves of manganese, at 200 million MT.

Unsurprisingly, South32 is a major presence in the South African manganese space. South Africa Manganese, one of the company’s four operations in South Africa, is made up of Metalloys and Hotazel Manganese Mines, which is owned by Hotazel Manganese Mines Proprietary. Notably, Hotazel Manganese Mines is located in the manganese-rich Kalahari Basin, which holds 80 percent of the world’s known manganese ore resources.


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2. China

Mine production: 3 million MT

China was the second-largest producer of manganese last year, recording output of 3 million MT; that’s the same amount it produced in 2014.

As mentioned, the country is also a major consumer of manganese as it uses large amounts of the metal in steelmaking; however, the country’s current sluggish economic growth means that lately it hasn’t required as much manganese as it usually does. And unfortunately, that situation doesn’t look likely to change in the near future — in a recent report, Shanghai Metals Market predicts that China’s manganese alloy output will grow less than 5 percent year-over-year for the next five years. That will “inevitably see an accelerated decline in [manganese] demand.”

3. Australia

Mine production: 2.9 million MT

Last year, Australia’s manganese production decreased, falling to 2.9 million MT from 2014’s 3.05 million MT.

Though South32 is a key player in the South African manganese space, it also has manganese operations in Australia. Australia Manganese, which the company has a 60-percent stake in, is made up of the GEMCO open-cut manganese mine and the TEMCO manganese alloy plant. According to the company, GEMCO is one of the world’s lowest-cost manganese ore producers.

Anglo American (LSE:AAL) holds the other 40-percent interest in Australia Manganese, and earlier this year South32 said it would be interested in buying Anglo’s share “if the price is right.”

4. Gabon

Mine production: 1.8 million MT

In 2015, Gabon produced 1.8 million MT of manganese, slightly down from the 1.86 million MT it put out in 2014.

The Moanda mine is a key manganese operation in the country. ERAMET (EPA:ERA), the world’s second-largest producer of high-grade manganese ore, operates the mine through its subsidiary COMILOG. In 2014, ERAMET’s overall manganese production totaled 3.5 million tons — that was less than expected due to an accident that affected the railway in the country.


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5. Brazil

Mine production: 1 million MT

Brazil produced 1 million MT of manganese in 2015, slightly less than the 1.04 million MT it put out in 2014. Major miner Vale (NYSE:VALE) is the largest producer of manganese in the country, and accounts for a whopping 70 percent of its market. According to the company, 80 percent of the manganese it produces comes from the Azul mine.

Like China, Brazil is a consumer of manganese in addition to being a top producer of the metal. Interestingly, a recent infographic from Visual Capitalist suggests that in the future, much of the manganese that Brazil uses could to go the agricultural sector. The country is a major supplier of agricultural products, but the land it uses to produce those products is low in manganese. As a result, the country’s demand for manganese is expected to grow in coming years as farmers look to improve crop health.

6. India

Mine production: 950,000 MT

In 2015, India produced 950,000 MT of manganese, off slightly from 2014’s 945,000 MT.

As with China and Brazil, the country is a big consumer of manganese as well as one of the top producers in the world. Unfortunately, that could pose problems for the country in the years to come — according to the Indian Ministry of Mines, the country will face a shortage of manganese for steel production by 2020. The organization’s report, “Manganese Ore: Vision 2020 and Beyond,” outlines the need for increased production to support growing domestic manganese demand.

7. Malaysia

Mine production: 400,000 MT

Malaysia put out 400,000 MT of manganese in 2015, higher than the 378,000 MT it produced the previous year. The US Geological survey notes in a 2013 report on the country that its manganese output had gradually ticked upward since 2005. It also states that Malaysia’s manganese is found in the states of Johor, Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu.


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8. Ghana

Mine production: 390,000 MT

Ghana’s 2015 manganese output clocked in at 390,000 MT, down from 418,000 MT in 2014. Most manganese in the country is mined in the area around Takoradi.

Consolidated Minerals, better known as Consmin, is one of the four largest producers of manganese in the world by volume, and holds a 90-percent stake in Ghana Manganese Company, which runs the Nsuta mine. Nsuta has total reserves of 45.01 million MT grading 28.16 percent manganese, and total resources of 101.3 million MT grading 26.8 percent manganese.

9. Kazakhstan

Mine production: 390,000 MT

Like Ghana, Kazakhstan produced 390,000 MT of manganese in 2015; that’s up slightly from 380,000 MT the year prior. Privately owned Eurasian Natural Resources runs multiple manganese mines in Kazakhstan. In 2014, Glencore (LSE:GLEN) was said to be interested in buying those assets, but ultimately did not do so.

10. Ukraine

Mine production: 390,000 MT

As with Ghana and Kazakhstan, Ukraine produced 390,000 MT of manganese in 2015; the previous year it put out 422,000 MT. Interestingly, the country has the second-largest reserves of manganese in the world, at 140 million MT. Russia Insider has said in the past that it’s difficult for the country to harness its mineral resources due to a combination of corruption, war and mismanagement.

This is an updated version of an article originally published on Manganese Investing News on June 8, 2015. 


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Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article. 

Related reading: 

Manganese Outlook 2016: Weak Steel Demand a Threat

China’s Manganese Imports From South Africa Up 15 Percent on Year

Platts reported that China’s imports of manganese ore and concentrate from South Africa is up 15 percent year-on-year, totaling 4.97 million metric tonnes from January to September.

As quoted in the market news:

South Africa is China’s top source of imported manganese ore and concentrate.

The other main suppliers over January-September were Australia at 3.26 million mt, Gabon 1.3 million mt, Brazil 1.1 million mt, Malaysia 487,297 mt, Ghana 297,993 mt, Cote d’Ivoir 185,284 mt, Morocco 45,607 mt, Namibia 34,440 mt and Oman 28,836 mt.

Imports from the 10 main suppliers totaled 11.71 million mt and comprised 99.3% of China’s total manganese ore and concentrate imports of 11.79 million mt over January-September.

Click here to read the full Platts report.


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Ferrex and Cancana Moving Forward in Manganese Market

Ferrex and Cancana Moving Forward in Manganese Market

Two companies have made progress as they look to breathe some new life into a somewhat stagnant manganese market.

Ferrex (LSE:FRX) announced Thursday that it has been granted an environmental permit for its Nayega project in Northern Togo, while Cancana Resources (TSXV:CNY) revealed earlier in the week that it has identified four additional sites on its Brazil Manganese Corporation (BMC) tenements. BMC is a joint venture between Cancana and Ferrometals.

Ferrex makes the switch

Though Ferrex produces iron in addition to manganese, falling iron ore prices have forced the company to focus on its manganese properties.

“The Company has decided to primarily focus on its manganese assets and developing it towards production in the near term whilst continuing to advance its iron ore assets in South Africa and Gabon using in house skills to keep expenditure to a minimum,” Dave Reeves, managing director of Ferrex, said in a press release earlier this month.

Since then the company has stayed true to its word, not only gaining an environmental permit for Nayega, but also receiving extensions on its prospecting permits after relinquishing 50 percent of the 92,000-hectare property.

“The renewal of the exploration permits also shows the support that the company has in Togo and allows us to continue the ongoing exploration programme that is defining new manganese mineralisation outside the main Nayega deposit,” said Reeves in a statement.

The permits have been renewed for two years, and a further two years subsequently, giving the company the space it needs to develop.

Cancana hopes exploring pays off

Cancana provided a Q3 update on behalf of BMC, noting that during the quarter, BMC’s production hit 1,200 tons, with 250 tons sold as commercial samples.

The company hopes to improve those numbers by increasing its efficiency — this past quarter, the company shut down its Rio Madeira plant for five weeks as it made improvements to the trommel and tailings ponds and addressed water access issues. Meanwhile, acquisition delays forced the Jaburi plant to come online in late September.

Cancana CEO Anthony Julien seems confident the best is yet to come. ”The BMC team has done an excellent job in bringing together the 3 assets and improving them to reach Canadian mining standards. Now that both plants are online and we have a mine plan to deliver consistent quality material, BMC is on-track to meeting its production target by December, 31, 2014,” he said in a press release.

On a different note, BMC has identified four additional sites for mining. The company has started permitting and planning as it looks to start mining at those sites; if they appear feasible they will provide a source of feed for Rio Madeira and Jaburi.

Looking forward

Both Ferrex and Cancana have moves to make as they look to thrive in the current market. Ferrex is looking to both secure its mining permit before the end of the quarter and finalize its definitive feasibility study.

For its part, Cancana is waiting on the completion of testing performed by BMC to ensure the material it’s producing meets market requirements. To help that cause, BMC is currently constructing an on-site sample preparation lab to improve analysis times.


Securities Disclosure: I, Nick Wells, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article. 

Manganese Ore Prices Holding Steady

Platts reported that manganese ore prices to China firmed today, with the 44-percent variety hitting $4.20 per dry metric ton unit CIF Tianjin.

As quoted in the market news:

‘We have not heard many transactions, but prices are holding and sellers are trying to push offers higher [by 5-10 cents],’ a miner source said.

A Chinese trader said Australian 46% manganese ore transaction prices were at $4.43/dmtu in port, adding he had bought Gabon origin ore at $4.15/dmt CIF China in the second half of August.

Click here to read the full Platts report.

Zambia Aims to Kickstart Manganese Production

Zambia Aims to Kickstart Manganese Production

The landlocked African nation of Zambia is best known for its copper. In 2012, it produced 675,000 metric tons (MT) of the metal, good for seventh on the US Geological Survey’s (USGS) list of leading copper-producing countries. However, the country is looking to lower its reliance on copper by encouraging the development of other metals, including coal, uranium, iron ore and manganese.

Estimates of Zambia’s manganese reserves are hard to come by. In March, Zambia Manganese Corporation’s smelter general manager, Leon Erasmus, told an environmental impact assessment meeting that the country has 15 million MT of high-quality manganese. That’s obviously a very general estimate, but if substantiated, it would make Zambia roughly the world’s eighth-largest producer, behind Gabon, based on USGS data.

Zambia: open for business?

The country’s mining sector was nationalized in 1978 only to be reprivatized in 1998. Since then, the Zambian government has been taking steps to attract more foreign investment to the industry.

“Time-wasting procedures that may confront foreign investors elsewhere have been eliminated in Zambia and legal requirements have been reduced to an absolute minimum,” states the website of the country’s Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development. “Streamlined processing of paperwork and rapid decisions, guided by the Investment Centre, greatly facilitate all aspects of importation of equipment and export of products.”

The country is currently reviewing its Mines and Minerals Act and is expected to approve an amendment that will allow the granting of longer licensing permits. That will allow investors to “have the confidence that they will have security of tenure,” Mines Minister Yamfwa Mukanga was quoted as saying in a February 6 Mineweb article. “We are trying to attract more investment in the country by reviewing the legal framework. We are not going to go backwards,” he added.

The country ranks 94th, or roughly in the middle, of the 185 nations listed in the World Bank’s 2013 Ease of Doing Business index. That’s down four spots from last year’s ranking, but still well ahead of a number of other African nations, including Kenya (121), Ethiopia (127), Sudan (143), Liberia (149) and the bottom-ranked Central African Republic (185). However, importantly for miners, Zambia still ranks poorly on two important factors: getting electricity (151st) and dealing with construction permits (151st).

There are a number of major multinational mining firms with a presence in Zambia, most of which are operating copper projects. These include First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM), Vedanta Resources (LSE:VED), Glencore International (LSE:GLEN), Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX,TSX:ABX) and Vale (NYSE:VALE).

Illegal manganese mining still poses a challenge

Despite the country’s strong mining potential, operating in Zambia still entails risk. For example, according to a recent report from Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW), some manganese miners operating in Zambia’s Luapala Province are largely unregulated. Edward Lange, SARW’s Zambia coordinator, has said that’s because they are being granted licenses by the Ministry of Mines and starting work without any consultation with local people, which obviously runs counter to current mining practices.

“Manganese miners act with impunity — uprooting communities, destroying farmers’ livelihoods, wrecking the environment, providing no local benefits and paying far too little in taxes and levies,” said Lange in a December 11, 2012 Zambian Watchdog article. “What people do not realise is that most of these are Zambian companies, owned by MPs or government ministers, and they act just as badly as foreign companies — if not worse.”

“Manganese occurs in small pockets so companies move rapidly from one place to another without giving a second thought to the damage they leave behind,” he added. “The companies do not seem to care about the impact of their work on increasingly angry communities — ruined crops, huge empty pits and health problems — since they are not going to suffer any consequences from their appalling corporate behaviour.”

Active manganese miners in Zambia

A significant amount of Zambia’s manganese is extracted by small-scale and privately held firms. However, two ASX-listed companies are currently involved in the Zambian manganese business. Here’s a look at their operations.

Kaboko Mining (ASX:KAB) is focused on exploring for and developing manganese in Zambia. Its assets in the country consist of a 51-percent interest in five large-scale prospecting licenses and three small-scale licenses covering over 2,700 square kilometers, according to the company’s website. Kaboko continues to conduct further exploration to define manganese resources on these holdings.

On April 3, the company announced the acquisition of a processing plant to crush and process the ore from its Northern Zambian manganese project at Mansa. Kaboko is now developing a mine plan for the project, with a scoping study expected to be completed early in the current quarter. It will then undertake a 24-hole drilling program with the goal of extending the current mineralization. After that, the company aims to produce a JORC-compliant resource estimate.

The project will have an initial run rate of 5,000 MT per month, starting in the third quarter of 2013, according to a March 12 Proactive Investors article. That will increase to 10,000 MT per month by the end of the year.

The project is backed by a $10-million prepayment debt facility and manganese offtake agreement with Noble Group (SGX:N21)

Zamanco Minerals (ASX:ZAM) also explores for manganese in Zambia. It aims to develop its Serenje project, which includes a $60-million manganese processing plant that will start production by 2014, Mineweb reported in November 2012. Jacques Bandenhorst, managing director, has said the plant will have a capacity of 56,250 MT of medium-carbon ferromanganese and 9,600 MT of silicomanganese per year.

The company’s website notes that it has also entered into a joint venture with a Zambian national that holds a prospecting permit in the country’s Mkushi region. As well, it has had discussions with small-scale miners in the Mansa area to purchase material currently being stockpiled as waste, which it says it can smelt “to produce a high value product.” The company is currently conducting a bankable feasibility study, which it expects to complete by the end of the third quarter of 2013.


Securities Disclosure: I, Chad Fraser, hold no positions in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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Illegal Manganese Mining in Zambia

South Africa Aims to Process More Manganese at Home

South Africa Aims to Process More Manganese at Home

A 2010 estimate from Citigroup (NYSE:C) identifies South Africa as the most resource-rich nation on Earth, with more than $2.5 trillion worth of reserves (not including energy resources such as oil and gas). The country is home to the world’s largest reported reserves of gold, platinum group metals, chrome ore and manganese ore, according to the South African government’s National Planning Commission.

South Africa is a particular standout in manganese: according to the US Geological Survey, the country is home to 75 percent of the world’s identified manganese resources. It was the number-one producer in 2012, with 3.5 million metric tons (MT) of output. However, it has struggled to increase its output, mainly because of antiquated or absent transportation infrastructure. Last year, for example, Gabon and Australia, which in terms of production come fourth and fifth, respectively, increased their production at a faster rate than South Africa; Gabon aims to become the leading producer of manganese within the next four years.

In addition, South Africa continues to export the bulk of its commodities as ores or in semi-processed forms, rather than as fully processed or finished products (such as jewelry), which carry a much higher value. That, along with the nation’s 24.9-percent unemployment rate, has spurred the government to develop a beneficiation strategy that aims to process more minerals in South Africa. The government hopes that it will create jobs, spur domestic resource consumption and lead to a more modern mining industry.

“As part of addressing the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment, government has developed a beneficiation strategy, which seeks to provide opportunities in the downstream part of the minerals sector,” said South African President Jacob Zuma in his February 2011 State of the Nation address.

Broad strokes of beneficiation plan begin to emerge

In June 2011, the government released its Beneficiation Strategy for the Minerals Industry of South Africa, which provides a road map for its approach.

“In 2008, gross revenue from sales of all minerals in South Africa amounted to just below R300 billion,” the policy document states. “Similarly, just over R86 billion was generated from processing of base metals, precious metals and other minerals, which represented 11 percent of the total volumes of minerals produced. This represents the national opportunity loss in export revenue and employment creation opportunities.”

The document names 10 minerals, including manganese, that the government sees as holding the most potential to gain from beneficiation. It also identifies five value chains that will be the focus of the government’s plan.

In the case of manganese, the policy aims spur the production of steel, for which manganese is essential, by increasing competition in the local steel industry. The policy also aims to facilitate the development of new steel and stainless steel plants in the country itself. Further, the document recommends investigating “mechanisms to protect and support the competitiveness of existing intermediary plants, such as ferro-chrome smelters.”

At the same time, the government has been investing heavily in transportation infrastructure to support the industry. As we reported last year, in September, the country assembled and tested its first-ever distributed power train for manganese at the new Tshipi Borwa mine, which recently blasted its first ore. In addition, South Africa has announced a 300-billion-rand (US$32.5 billion) plan to boost railway capacity, build and upgrade port facilities and add new fuel pipelines.

South Africa is not the only nation pushing miners to process more ore locally. Leading tin producer Indonesia, for example, plans to ban the export of a number of unprocessed mineral ores starting in 2014. There’s no sign that South Africa is planning to go that far. Last year, South African mines minister Susan Shabangu said the country’s beneficiation initiatives won’t lead to a “complete ban on exports.”

Recent developments show beneficiation is picking up steam

Two developments in recent weeks provide evidence that the government’s plan is moving forward. The first is the introduction of a new research and development (R&D) tax credit for mining companies. As BDlive reported, the new tax will provide an additional 50-percent income tax deduction on eligible R&D expenses.

Secondly, earlier this month BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP,ASX:BHP,LSE:BLT) opened a fourth furnace at the Metalloys manganese smelting plant, owned by its 60-percent-owned subsidiary, Samancor Manganese. The new furnace has the capacity to produce 12,000 MT of high-carbon ferromanganese a year and will allow BHP to process 30 percent of the manganese ore that it mines locally, according to a March 6 Metal-Pages article.

In all, BHP has invested $1 billion rand ($83.7 million US) in the plant, which has the capacity to produce 120,000 MT of high-carbon ferromanganese a year. The facility will also contribute carbon dioxide to an onsite power-generation plant, which will help lower the smelter’s dependence on local power grids.

Shabangu, who was on hand to open the furnace, sees BHP’s investment as a clear win for the government’s plan. “Ladies and gentlemen, this project is positive proof that the Government’s vision of increased mineral beneficiation is beginning to take shape, and that it will happen within the context of sustainable development, as the technical specifications of this furnace show,” she said in a speech that was later posted on the government website.


Securities Disclosure: I, Chad Fraser, hold no positions in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

Related reading: 

Gabon Aims to be the World’s Leading Manganese Producer

South Africa Aims to Get Manganese Production Back on Track

South Africa’s Newest Manganese Mine Blasts First Ore

MOIL Instructed to Increase Availability of Manganese Ore

Mining Weekly reported that the Indian Steel Ministry has instructed MOIL to increase mangaese ore availabilty to meet the needs of the domestic steel industry.

As quoted in the market report:

The push to increase manganese production comes in the wake of MOIL not making much headway in following through proposals, received last year, to acquire manganese ore assets in South Africa, Gabon and Turkey.  The company also failed to report progress on plans to revive the government-owned Kisenge manganese mines in Katanga province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

To view the whole Mining Weekly report, click here.