Junior miner Kalagadi Manganese has raised a debt package in excess of R5-billion from local banks and development finance institutions, as well as an additional R2-billion from international financiers and export credit agencies, to fund ongoing mine development activities.
The 40%-black-women-owned and -managed manganese group is nearing completion of an ambitious mine and sinter plant complex in the Kalahari basin, near Hotazel, in the Northern Cape, and has plans for the development of a R4.2-billion high-carbon ferromanganese smelter in the Coega industrial development zone, in the Eastern Cape, to facilitate local beneficiation.
Kalagadi is currently in the process of finalising agreements with the Coega Development Corporation concerning the 320 000 t/y smelter, but the company reports that the environmental-impact assessment study has been completed, with the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs having granted authorisation for the project development midway through last year.
Meanwhile, the final blast for the 300 m underground mine shaft was completed in February, keeping the company on track to achieving its mid-2012 three-million-ton run-of-mine production target.
The company is in final negotiations with parastatal Transnet Freight Rail on rail and port allocations, which would see the development of a 23 km railway siding linking the mine to the primary manganese corridor line from Hotazel to Nelson Mandela Bay.
Meanwhile, the group has secured a 35 MVA electricity allocation from Eskom to power the 75%-completed sinter plant, with activation expected in July.
At a site visit earlier this year to celebrate the final shaft blast, company founder and chairperson Daphne Mashile-Nkosi emphasised the importance of government support for development projects such as the Kalagadi mine, and the need for the internalisation of South Africa’s resource wealth.
“I am glad to see that government realises the importance of partnering with various stakeholders in the economy to drive the developmental agenda. This is a role that government is well positioned to play to ensure the mobilisation of our resources,” she said.
Mineral Resources minister Susan Shabangu has been a long-time supporter of Kalagadi Manganese, and was responsible for turning the key and igniting the symbolic final shaft blast at the recent on-site event.
“I am once again very proud to be here at this mine and to join its band of female leaders as they celebrate yet another set of milestones,” she said.
The Minister emphasised the potential for Kalagadi to serve as a ‘model’ for other mining companies, as well as to provide significant benefit for the local community which remains largely underprivileged despite the region’s prevalent mineral endowment.
The group currently employs around 1 600 workers on site, and expects to employ in the region of 2 200 on ramp-up to full production.
Meanwhile, Shabangu asserts that economic growth scenarios project continued growth for steel demand and production increases of between 5% and 7% in the coming years, which augurs well for manganese production.