Which country was the largest producer of manganese in 2017? South Africa took the top spot, with other heavyweights following.
Manganese performed with volatility in 2017, with prices supported by supply-side factors in China rather than strong demand.
The verdict is still out on 2018, but the metal is strongly dependent on the Asian nation, which requires large amounts of manganese for steelmaking. With a weaker Chinese economy expected, trouble might be in store for the metal — but interest in its battery applications could be a positive force.
As the manganese market continues to develop, it’s useful to know where the metal comes from. Interestingly, almost 78 percent of global manganese resources are found in South Africa, though many other countries have significant production and reserves.
With that in mind, here’s a brief overview of the 10 largest producers of manganese in 2017. All stats are taken from the US Geological Survey’s most recent report on the metal.
1. South Africa
Mine production: 5.3 million MT
South Africa is the world’s largest producer of manganese by a long shot, and in 2017 its output of the metal remained the same at 5.3 million MT. The country also holds the largest reserves of manganese, at 200 million MT.
South32 (ASX:S32,LSE:S32) 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.
Mine production: 2.5 million MT
China was the second-largest producer of manganese last year, recording output of 2.5 million MT; that’s a bit more than the 2.33 million MT it produced in 2016.
As mentioned, the country is a major consumer of manganese as it uses large amounts of the metal in steelmaking. A manganese reserve believed to contain 203 million tonnes of manganese ore was discovered in the country last year, and local authorities believe it is the largest in Asia. However, there’s been no word yet as to when or if it will be mined.
In the meantime, reports show that world supply of manganese and silicomanganese is high this year due in large part to Chinese output.
Mine production: 2.2 million MT
Last year, Australia’s manganese production decreased slightly to 2.2 million MT from 2016’s 2.24 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. In July, Australia Manganese reported a 10-percent increase in production year-on-year for the 2018 financial year.
Mine production: 1.6 million MT
In 2017, Gabon was the fourth-largest producer of manganese. The country produced 1.6 million MT of manganese, slightly down from the 1.62 million MT it put out in 2016.
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 2017, ERAMET’s overall manganese production totaled 4.1 million tons. According to a recent press release, ERAMET is on course to break a new record for production in 2018.
Mine production: 1.2 million MT
Brazil produced 1.2 million MT of manganese in 2017, slightly more than it put out in 2016. Major miner Vale (NYSE:VALE) is the largest manganese miner in the country, and accounts for a whopping 70 percent of its market. According to the company, 80 percent of its manganese comes from the Azul mine.
Like China, Brazil is a consumer of manganese in addition to being a top producer of the metal. An 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.
Mine production: 790,000 MT
In 2017, India was the sixth-largest producer of manganese. It produced 790,000 MT of the metal, off slightly from 2016’s 745,000 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 India 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.
Mine production: 550,000 MT
Ghana’s 2017 manganese output clocked in at 550,000 MT, nearly the same as it put out in 2016. 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. According to its website, 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. Consmin signed a 10-year supply deal with China’s Ningxia Tianyuan Manganese Industry in 2018.
Mine production: 380,000 MT
Ukraine came in as the eighth-largest producer of manganese. The country produced 380,000 MT of manganese in 2017, a decrease from the previous year, when it put out 425,000 MT.
The country has the second-largest reserves of manganese in the world, at 140 million MT. According to S&P Global Platts, Ukraine exported 936,700 MT of ferroalloys in 2017, a number that includes the country’s manganese products, such as silicomanganese and ferromanganese. At the same time, Platts says Ukraine imported manganese ore and concentrate from Ghana, South Africa and Gabon. As of August, the country’s manganese imports were up 1.5 percent year-on-year in 2018.
Mine production: 270,000 MT
Malaysia put out 270,000 MT of manganese in 2017, a small increase from the previous year. Roskill notes that over the past decade Malaysia has gone from producing almost no manganese to annual output of over 200,000 MT. Malaysia’s manganese is found in the states of Johor, Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu. According to the International Manganese Institute, silcomanganese production has risen this year and been driven by China and Malaysia.
Mine production: 230,000 MT
Kazakhstan bumped Mexico from the top 10 last year. The 10th-largest producer of manganese put out 230,000 MT of manganese in 2017; that’s up slightly from 212,000 MT the year prior. The country has reserves of 5 million MT of manganese.
Privately owned Eurasian Natural Resources runs multiple manganese mines in Kazakhstan.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Amanda Kay, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.