The report on the Chrome sector describes the current market, outlines developments within the sector and focuses on factors influencing the success of the local industry. The report also profiles nine companies, including the world’s largest ferrochrome producer Glencore Operations South Africa (Pty) Ltd, which employs 9,500 people at its seven chrome mines and five ferrochrome plants, and the second-largest producer, Samancor Chrome, which owns two mines and three ferrochrome plants.
The Mining of Chrome in South Africa
This report focuses on the chrome ore mining sector in South Africa. The country holds 72% of global chromite resources, which includes more than 41% of the world’s reserves, and during 2014 the industry produced 15Mt of chromite, exporting 7Mt valued at US$1.1bn. Also produced during 2014 was 3.7Mt of ferrochrome, an alloy of iron and chromium, and 3.6Mt of this, worth US$3.2bn was exported.
Challenges and Investments
Challenges faced by the sector include unreliable and reduced electricity supply, rapidly escalating input costs and the impact of strikes. As well as rising productions costs, South African ferrochrome producers have to deal with low ferrochrome prices because of the inability of the steel mills to absorb higher prices. Despite these difficulties on the domestic front, the sector has seen stakeholders investing in production capacity and the introduction of new energy-efficient technologies. The industry also saw newcomer Bauba Platinum arranging its first shipment of chromite to ASA Metals during March 2015 and Assore undertaking trials to re-establish open-cast mining at the Zeerust Chrome mine in the North West province. The export market for chromite remains strong but stakeholders have expressed concern that Chinese imports of South African chromite have resulted in China becoming the world’s largest producer of ferrochrome.