JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – South Africans have every right to be very proud of the iron ore produced in the country.
This is the view of the CEO of Sedibeng Iron Ore Aneesh Misra, who is also Managing Director of IMR South Africa. (Also watch the attached Creamer Media video.)
IMR, based in Switzerland, as majority owner, took over the operation of Sedibeng two and a half years ago. Since then he has focused on optimizing operations and trying to improve efficiency.
Located near the town of Postmasburg in the North Cape, Sedibeng has a twinning capacity of two million tonnes of iron ore per year – but, with greater rail availability, it could produce significantly more iron ore. for export.
IMR is also part of a consortium that is acquiring PPC lime mining and processing operations, also in the North Cape, for R515 million.
Sedibeng produces lumpy iron ore and the iron content combined with the hardness of the lumps “definitely provides an advantage over some of the other products available in Brazil and Australia,” Misra said. Mining Weekly in a Zoom interview.
“The demand is there and I think South Africans have every right to be very proud of the material produced in the country.”
Typically, world market pricing is done relative to Platts, with a lump sum awarded for what the lump sum brings to a blast furnace in the steelmaking process.
“There is a lump sum premium that is attached to our sales, but it’s obviously driven by market demand, so as huge environmental restrictions come into play in China, lump sum premiums are starting to have an impact, in especially because packages are more desirable. from the blast furnace point of view and reduce the environmental impact accordingly, ”said Misra.
Sedibeng’s production capacity corresponds to the rail allocation it has on the 861 km long electrified heavy transport ore (Orex) export line to the port of Saldanha for export to world markets. .
“When it comes to future growth plans, the mine can certainly get bigger. The mine can produce from 2.5 million tonnes to three million tonnes, but that obviously depends on the rail capacity that can be put into service on the Orex side, ”he said.
IMR considers any investment in a mining asset by placing a value on the local workforce.
Its aim is to eliminate the overworked corporate structure in the company and to instill more responsibility and authority in the existing workforce and to implement initiatives that were introduced by the labor itself.
“When we got into investing, no one really envisioned how high the price of iron ore would go up.
“It was before Covid, before the release of Covid and trying to understand the market as a whole. The volatility is so great that one can never compare the feasibility of exploitation at these existing prices.
“When we looked at Sedibeng and signed the deal, it was in 2018. At that time, iron ore prices were considerably lower. They were hovering between $ 70 / t and $ 75 / t, and even then Sedibeng was a company that was operating efficiently and profitably at those levels.
“We have been focused on trying to lower our cost threshold and we would like to think that we have used the time to prepare for the price correction,” Misra said.
All of Sedibeng’s iron ore goes to China, where the unlisted company has cultivated a home for its product in some steel mills.
“At two million tonnes per year, we do not have the longevity to conclude compensation contracts and two million tonnes for a market like China is a drop in the ocean.
“But there are certain steel plants that we work with. We try to optimize our sales strategy accordingly and so it is a hybrid where it rolls out on a monthly basis, but we know our end users and we try to manage their needs as much as possible, ”added Misra. .
As reported by Weekly mining, IMR, under the new owner of PPC Lime, Kgatelopele Lime, will focus on developing new markets for its product and expanding its customer base.
Kgatelopele is a consortium made up of mineral resource trader IMR Resources South Africa, mining-focused investment holding companies Kolobe Nala Investment Lime and HEX2M, as well as JJJL Mining – which is an entity owned by a former CEO of PPC Johannes claassen, who has extensive knowledge of PPC Lime and its operations.
Kgatelopele entered into transaction deals with JSE-listed PPC earlier in May to acquire the subsidiary for R515 million.
The new owners expect the transaction to complete by the end of the year; however, the rights, benefits and benefits of PPC Lime transferred to Kgatelopele on April 1.
Following the completion of the transaction, PPC Lime will be 39% black owned, including black empowerment investors, PPC Lime employees and host communities.
The name Kgatelopele – a Setswana word meaning “progress” – is shared with the local municipality in which the mine is located, to symbolize the intention of the new owners to embrace the wider community as partners.
PPC Lime’s mining and processing operations in North Cape manufacture reactive lime, hard lime, hydrated lime, burnt dolomitic lime and raw limestone. It supplies industries such as iron and steel, alloys, gold, uranium, copper, non-ferrous metals, sugar refining, water treatment and flue gas desulphurization.
PPC Lime extracts two quarries, while a rotary kiln plant produces the burnt product. The first limestone quarry began operations in 1954 at Lime Acres on a large reserve of metallurgical grade limestone and dolomite.
Lime Acres’ total calcination capacity is 900,000 t / year, making PPC Lime one of the main suppliers of these products in sub-Saharan Africa.
Traditionally, lime has been used primarily in steel making, where it serves as a flux to remove impurities such as silica, phosphorus, and sulfur.
Founder of Kolobele Nala Billy Mawasha said Weekly Engineering and Mining News that PPC Lime has traditionally served the iron and steel industry, but there are opportunities for the company to pursue more opportunities in water treatment and non-ferrous metals, including gold, platinum and copper, mining sectors.
He adds that the company will also continue to supply companies such as petrochemical giant and coal miner Sasol with lime for the desulfurization of fluorodeoxyglucose gas.