Battery Metals

The rising price of manganese has shed light on the lack of infrastructure spending, which has hurt the profitability of manganese operations. South Africa needs to increae the capacity of railway lines and ports to ship out more of the material. Also, India explores the ocean depths for manganese resources.

By Michael Montgomery—Exclusive to Manganese Investing News

Due to rising demand for steel, mainly in China, the manganese market has been making steady strides to erase losses from the global downturn. Companies have been expanding searches for the metal, and many manganese rich countries are investing in infrastructure projects.

South Africa, a world leader in manganese production is regretting not investing infrastructure projects that would have helped capitalize on growing demand for a whole host of minerals. While China is still the leader of the manganese market, the material produced is of low grade, giving SA the upper hand. The country is home to 80 percent of the world known resources.

At a Metal Bulletin conference in South Africa, Kevin Fowkes, director of Integer Analysts, stated: “SA is expected to be producing about 13Mt/year of manganese ore by 2020 and exporting 11Mt/year. The export capacity of Port Elizabeth, now about 4,2Mt/year and targeted to rise to 6Mt/year, will be grossly inadequate,” reported Charlotte Mathews, for Financial Mail.

The Ivory Coast is investing in a new railway to transport nickel, iron and manganese to the port town of San Pedro. “The west is overflowing with nickel, manganese and iron. Construction of the railway will begin in 2014 and we’re looking to transport about 22 million metric tons of minerals a year,” said Mines and Energy Minister Augustin Comoe. The country plans to boost mining percentage of GDP from the current level of 1.5 percent, to 10 percent in 2020. The growth of mining in the country is a story to watch over the year.

India plans to launch an unmanned mining exploration submersible.  On June 7th, Manganese Investing News reported on a Korean submersible that was to mine manganese nodules on the sea floor. “The Indian ROV is operational at the Poly-Metallic Nodule (PMN) site that has been allotted to the country by the International Sea Bed Authority (ISBA) of United Nations,” from the article by The Press Trust of India.

While this may sound like science fiction, the drive for finite mineral resources will increasingly encourage countries and companies to go to great lengths to find new sources. For India, there is a suspected total resource of 380 million metric tons.

Manganese Company News

Australian manganese miner OM Holdings (ASX:OMH) has released production results for the third quarter. The company’s main mine, Bootu Creek produced 227,968 mt of manganese in the three months to September 30, up 16 percent on the June quarter and 11 percent year on year. The cost of production went down 10 percent in Q3, due to the unseasonably wet weather, as well as the mobilization of a third mining fleet that occurred in the previous quarter.

American Manganese Inc. (CVE:AMY) released new resource estimates that significantly increase the total inferred and indicated resources on their artillery peak property in Arizona. The new drilling program not only increased the estimate by a substantial 45 percent, “but also the amount of the resource in the Indicated Category has increased by more than six times from the previous estimate,” stated Larry Reaugh, President and CEO. The project holds great promise for the American steel industry, which has had to pay a premium for manganese for steel alloys, after a 20 percent export duty levied by the Chinese and a 14 percent import duty levied by the US Government.

Wildcat Silver Corp. (CVE:WS; PINK:WLVDF), which owns 80 percent of the ‘Hardshell’ property in Arizona, updated the preliminary economic assessment. The net present value of the project is $357 million. “Silver production is expected to average approximately 6 million ounces for the first five years, with cash costs for producing silver estimated to be negative $0.40 per ounce for the first five years,” stated the press release. The production estimates per year are 4.1 million ounces of silver, 233,000 tonnes of manganese carbonate, 20,187 tonnes of zinc carbonate, and 960 tonnes of copper.

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