South Africa’s manganese geology superb – Mining Weekly

KATHU, Northern Cape ( – Technically and geologically, South Africa has superb manganese that others can only dream about, says Singapore-based and ASX-listed OM Holdings CEO Peter Toth .

OMH has a 26% stake in Ntsimbintle, the company headed by struggle veteran and business leader Saki Macozoma , who has teamed up with mining luminary Brian Gilbertson in the building of South Africa’s newest manganese mine, Tshipi é Ntle, near Mamatwan in the Northern Cape.

In South Africa for the official Tshipi sod turning, OMH is a world leading independent manganese focused producer, smelter and marketer that has a manganese mine in Australia and sinter and alloy processing facilities in China.

“We can only dream about what you’ve got here in South Africa,” says Toth in an interview with Mining Weekly Online .

“Large thick shallow homogenous continuous seams – it’s a dream from a mining and geological point of view. You’ve just got to get it to a port,” he added.

Therein lies the rub, State-owned transport enterprise Transnet has been battling with the logistics, which is the key element in the unlocking of South Africa’s manganese treasure chest.

South Africa has 80% of the world’s manganese, but only 15% of the market.

The country has the wherewithal to gain a greater market share, provided it establishes competitive rail and port capacity.

Tshipi director Finn Behnken says that reef is as thick as 75 m in parts.

“That’s like standing beneath a 16-storey building, glancing up and saying, right, that’s solid manganese ore,” Behnken tells Mining Weekly Online .

The average thickness is 30 m, the first 15 m is slightly lower in grade at 31,5% and the portion of ore below that – which forms the heart of the Tshipi orezone – has a manganese content of 37% and totals 163-million tons.

Tshipi, an open pit operation set to commence production in 2012, is designed to produce 2.4-million tons of manganese ore every year for the next 60 years.

It is located next to the long-standing Mamatwan manganese mine operated by BHP Billiton’s Samancor, where Ntsimbintle is also a 9% black economic empowerment partner.

The comany is majority owned by broad based black South African entities and has a strong international shareholding through Australian-listed Jupiter Mining and Singapore’s OMH. The shareholders have raised the R1.7-billion necessary to construct the new mine.

The manganese lies 70 m below the present level of the Kalahari and requires the removal of 22-million tons of overburden to access, says Tshipi GM Mokgosi Nkoana .

“This transaction will considerably strengthen trade ties between South Africa, Singapore and China and will be beneficial for all partners,” says Macozoma.

Cynthia Mogodi , chairperson of the John Taolo Gaetsewe Developmental Trust, which owns 15% of Ntsimbintle, stressed the importance of the mine for the impoverished region.

“It is very important for our area which is one of the poorest in South Africa,” she says.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter