Mining of Iron Ore and Chrome in South Africa
South Africa was the world’s sixth largest producer of iron ore and largest producer of chrome ore in 2019. In recent months local mines have begun ramping up iron ore and chrome production following the lifting of most coronavirus lockdown measures. While high iron ore prices have lifted export earnings, the local chrome sector is struggling due to global demand challenges and rising electricity costs. The ferrochrome sector is particularly hard hit and five smelters have closed.
Developments in the Sectors
Iron ore prices experienced the largest percentage rise among mineral prices in the year to June 2020, as a result of the reduction in supply from Brazil, although iron ore sales volumes and production were down in 2020. The chrome market remains under pressure due to ongoing oversupply and global demand headwinds. Chrome prices experienced the biggest percentage price declines among all mineral prices in the year to June 2020. Some producers are beginning to recover, but ferrochrome producers reported marked production declines and losses in 2020.
Technology and Innovation
Mining companies involved in the production of iron ore and chrome ore are automating drills and using drones to survey mining areas and inspect equipment that is not easily accessible, eliminating the need to expose employees to safety risks. Other innovations include trading iron ore on a blockchain-based platform.
This report focuses on the mining of iron ore and chrome in South Africa and includes comprehensive information on the size and state of the sector, production, trade and other statistical information and detailed information on corporate actions and developments and regulation, including the proposed export tax on chrome. There are profiles of 21 companies including Anglo American’s Kumba Iron Ore, which mines about 70% of all iron ore in the country and other players such as Assmang and Palabora Copper. Chrome producers profiled include Glencore, Samancor Chrome and Afarak, as well as smaller chrome ore producers such as Lanxess and Tharisa.