Archive | Chromium/Platinum Group Metals

3,000 Workers in South Africa’s Mining and Smelting Sector May Lose Their Jobs – by Pavan Kulkarni (News – January 27, 2020)

Samancor Chrome Limited has cited operational reasons for preparing to retrench nearly 3,000 employees. Workers organized by the National Metalworkers Union of South Africa (NUMSA) are preparing to resist the retrenchments.

Over 3,000 workers in South Africa may be retrenched by Samancor Chrome Limited, a company involved in mining and smelting chrome ore. Samancor, with a capacity to produce 1.2 million tons, is one of the world’s largest suppliers of chrome alloys, including ferrochrome and chromite ore, which are used to give stainless steel its resistance to corrosion. South Africa supplies 30% of the global demand for ferrochrome.

Workers organized by the National Metalworkers Union of South Africa (NUMSA) are preparing to resist the retrenchments.

Samancor claims that due to adverse circumstances, the company is revising its production for 2020 downwards – chromite ore by roughly 29% and ferrochrome by 20%. In accordance with this plan, the company has initiated the retrenchment process, which “may affect 2,438 employees at the company’s mining operations and 599 employees at its smelters,” according to its statement. Continue Reading →

Column: Stalled Ring of Fire worth more than $117 billion – by Dr. James Mungall (Sudbury Star – January 24, 2020)

Dr. James Mungall is a professor of economic geology at Carleton University. He was Noront’s Chief Geologist during the discovery phase of exploration, but has no financial conflict of interest related to the Ring of Fire. He is considered the top specialist in magmatic ore deposits in Canada and is well-respected globally. Both the Ring of Fire and the Sudbury Basin are magmatic ore deposits.

How much is the Ring of Fire really worth?

Why has mining still not begun in Ontario’s Ring of Fire mineral deposit belt a decade after its discovery? Are the deposits worthless, or are there factors beyond the control of the mining industry that are blocking progress?

The value of recoverable contained metal “in the ground” represents the sum of wealth that can be generated through the eventual sale of the commodity to the marketplace. This wealth is distributed over costs of labour, energy, equipment, taxes, profits and interest payments, adding to economic activity by many actors.

Alternatively, the value of the deposit to investors is represented by the profit they hope to make after paying all costs. The need to apply a discount to future earnings shortens the time window on a company’s investment decision to just a few years and may forbid large initial capital expenditures even if the potential for long-term wealth generation is very great.

A third consideration is the intangible value of the deposit to society at large, such as the desire to secure a local supply of a strategic metal or to increase long-term economic activity in an underdeveloped region. Continue Reading →

China’s raw materials strategy: The next chapter in the US-China rivalry? – by Bashar Malkawi (Policy Forum – January 24, 2020)


“Without a domestic supply, the United States must rely on Chinese
sources of rare earths to build ‘Made in America’ military equipment.
It makes little sense to rely upon a security competitor for access to essential
military materials. Rare earths are not the only strategic

metal. Lithium, chromium, cobalt, graphite, copper, and manganese
are also essential for industrial purposes.”

The United States cannot rely upon products that originate in, or supply chains that run through, a potential adversary, Bashar Malkawi writes.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), publicly released in 2013 and formerly named ‘One Belt, One Road’, would, at first look, seem to be a force for good. China views the BRI as a way to enhance its trade connectivity, reduce surplus domestic industrial capacity, develop poorer interior provinces, promote energy security, and internationalise Chinese industrial and financial standards.

The BRI builds China’s commercial ties abroad by financing, constructing, and developing major transport, energy, technology, and other infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. Continue Reading →

South African chrome firms warn of more than 1,200 job cuts (Reuters U.S. – January 20, 2020)

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African chrome firms on Monday warned of more than 1,200 potential job cuts, citing power cuts, rising electricity tariffs and increased competition from overseas.

The potential layoffs highlight the risks posed to Africa’s most industrialized economy by struggling state power utility Eskom, which is struggling with breakdowns at its coal-fired power plants and is mired in a financial crisis.

They also pile more pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government, which is trying to contain 29% unemployment. Continue Reading →

Glencore to restructure SA ferrochrome following “material losses” at Rustenburg smelter – by David McKay ( – January 17, 2020)


HIGH electricity tariffs, interruptions, and deteriorating conditions in the ferrochrome market have forced Glencore and its joint venture partner, Merafe Resources, to consider restructuring its Rustenburg smelter.

As a result, the partners have commenced a Section 189 process in terms of the Labour Relations Act that may result in job losses. Glencore did not specify the extent of its planned restructuring, but it said Rustenburg smelter was suffering financial losses and would continue to do so “for the foreseeable future”. The Rustenburg smelter produces about 430,000 tons of ferrochrome annually. Glencore’s total smelting capacity from South Africa is 2.3 million tons (Mt).

This decision is the result of deteriorating operating and market conditions across the South African ferrochrome industry including unsustainable electricity tariffs and interruptions, cross subsidies and real cost inflation,” Glencore said. Significant ferrochrome output had also been displaced to international producers whose costs are lower. Continue Reading →

Ontario’s Ring of Fire: Many Hurdles Yet to Be Overcome – by Jason Unrau (The Epoch Times – December 19, 2019)

The Ring of Fire, northern Ontario’s massive chromite mining and smelting development project, continues to face delays due to challenges like the lack of road access and negotiations with First Nations communities.

Premier Doug Ford has said that the mine is “critical for (his) administration,” but without a rail corridor or smelting capabilities, the extensive chromite deposits in the James Bay Lowlands will stay stranded underground, in the middle of nowhere.

“It’s inaccessible for all practical purposes, except by air, and to sell chrome you’ve got to get it to its steel mills of the world,” said Frank Smeenk, CEO of KWG Resources and one of six mining execs and geologists who located the original cache. Continue Reading →

Eskom reform urgent to restore ferrochrome potential – by Martin Creamer (Engineering News – March 12, 2019)

JOHANNESBURG ( – The demise of State power utility Eskom has caused South Africa to lose its optimal position in the lucrative ferrochrome business.

Because of Eskom’s decline, unbeneficiated chrome ore exports from South Africa to China have enabled the Asian giant to ascend up the ferrochrome production ladder. As reported by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed chrome and ferrochrome company Merafe Resources on Monday, 76% of the chrome ore imported by China last year came from South Africa.

Merafe shares in 20.5% of the earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation of the large Glencore-Merafe Chrome Venture, the world’s second lowest cost producer. Continue Reading →

Low grades, high power costs key snags to SA chromite sector’s competitiveness – by David Oliveria (Engineering News – July 14, 2017)

JOHANNESBURG ( – Despite South Africa’s rich chromite endowment, the low chromium oxide (Cr2O3) grades in its orebodies and the high cost of electricity are significant barriers to the country becoming the dominant player in the global industry.

Mintek metallurgical project development consultant Dr Nic Barcza highlighted that the estimated global chromite production last year was about 30-million tons, with South Africa leading the charge at 14-million tons, followed by Kazakhstan at 5.5-million tons.

Barcza was giving a keynote address at the Southern African Institute for Mining and Metallurgy’s Chrome Colloquium at State-owned research organisation Mintek’s Randburg facilities, in Johannesburg, last month. He noted that South Africa and Kazakhstan, which collectively boast a shipping-grade chromite reserve of about five-billion tons, accounted for over 95% of global chromite resources. Continue Reading →

Matawa Chiefs – “Matawa member First Nations will lead and deliver the next economic boom of this province” – by Staff ( – November 26, 2019)

THUNDER BAY – “Matawa member First Nations will lead and deliver the next economic boom of this province. Equitable partnerships between Matawa First Nations-Government-Industry will result in investment opportunities on a national and international scale. Matawa First Nations are the partners and investors of certainty required for economic and social prosperity,” says Chief Harvey Yesno, Eabametoong First Nation.

“Matawa First Nations are fully aware of the potential impacts to our Inherent Aboriginal and Treaty Rights with the anticipated significant developments that will occur on our homelands. In today’s environment, it would be absurd and negligent for our communities not to call on the Ontario government to develop a new Crown-Inherent Aboriginal Rights-Treaty approach to develop the North,” states Chief Celia Echum, Ginoogaming First Nation.

The Chiefs of the Matawa First Nations (MFN) presented to the Ontario Standing Committee on General Government (SC-GG) regarding Bill 132, also known as ‘An Act to reduce burdens on people and businesses by enacting, amending and repealing various Act and revoking various Regulations’ tabled on Monday, October 28, 2019 by the Hon. Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. Continue Reading →

Rallies in twin Saults protest plans for ferrochrome plant – by Darren Taylor (Northern Ontario Business – November 25, 2019)

Groups of environmentally concerned citizens gathered in the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie – in Ontario, Canada and in Michigan, U.S. – on Nov. 23 for coordinated rallies to protest Noront Resources’ planned ferrochrome production facility for Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

“I know of people in Marquette, all over the state of Michigan, who are concerned about the building of this facility,” said James McCall, Sault Michigan resident, speaking to SooToday.

About 20 protesters gathered on the U.S. side at 1 p.m., intending to stay at that location until 6 p.m., the group including professional environmentalists and members of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Continue Reading →

Noront considers building small-scale ferrochrome pilot plant in Sudbury – by David Helwig (Soo Today – November 14, 2019)

Also, here’s about as detailed an accounting of what Noront has told us about the Sault plant as we can muster

Fifteen months after Sudbury was rejected as the future home of a billion-dollar Noront Resources Ltd. smelter, it appears the Nickel City may yet win a skinny-downed slice of ferrochrome pie.

Before building its controversial ferrochrome processing plant in Sault Ste. Marie, Noront wants to test its technology with a small-scale demonstration plant. Greater Sudbury is under consideration as the prototype’s location.

This previously undisclosed part of Noront’s plans was one of many new details that surfaced during six hours of formal and informal presentations by executives of the junior mining company late last month in the Sault. The tsunami of new information, released in a widely-criticized format, went largely unreported in media reports. Continue Reading →

Ontario renewed funding push for Ring of Fire roads as viability of venture questioned – by Niall McGee and Jeff Gray (Globe and Mail – November 4, 2019)

The Ontario government appealed to Ottawa this summer to split a $1.6-billion construction bill for roads into the Ring of Fire region, despite mounting evidence the minerals project in the province’s North isn’t economically viable.

Documents reviewed by The Globe and Mail show that Greg Rickford, Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, sent an e-mail in July to a number of federal ministers asking for Ottawa to kick in as much as $779-million to roughly match Ontario’s contribution.

As part of his business case for investing in the Ring of Fire, Mr. Rickford referenced a number of often-cited huge financial projections about the project that have no supporting evidence. Continue Reading →

The road to nowhere: Claims Ontario’s Ring of Fire is worth $60-billion are nonsense – by Niall McGee and Jeff Gray (Globe and Mail – October 26, 2019)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has talking points he’s fond of repeating – over and over again – and one of his favourites is a pledge to build a billion-dollar road to a boggy, remote region of Northern Ontario known as the Ring of Fire.

When asked about the promise by a reporter at a plowing match in September, Mr. Ford repeated almost verbatim an infamous tweet from last year’s provincial election campaign: “If I have to hop on a bulldozer myself, we’re going to start building roads to the Ring of Fire.”

“You’re going to see me on that bulldozer,” Mr. Ford declared, with a confident chuckle. The declaration by the Ontario premier is just one example of the big talk over the past decade by politicians of all stripes about the Ring of Fire. Continue Reading →

Noront officials grilled on proposed Soo smelter – by Jairus Patterson (CTV News Northern Ontario – October 24, 2019)

Thursday night in Sault Ste. Marie, residents had an opportunity to speak with Noront Resources officials regarding the ferrochrome smelter that is expected to be built in the city over the next decade as part of the Ring of Fire project.

For five hours, the Noront team was grilled by the public with concerns regarding the proposed smelter. CTV News spoke with Noront President and Chief Executive Officer Alan Coutts at the event. Coutts said his team was asked a lot of questions.

“Some that we can answer and some that we can’t answer yet. We’re taking notes, we’re trying to engage. We’re trying to provide the information that we can,” The information was presented in an open house format in a hotel boardroom with everyone free to move around. It is a set up many residents say just did not work. Continue Reading →

Timmins feels door still open for ferrochrome plant – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – October 18, 2019)

Mayor George Pirie remains confident Timmins will ultimately be the location of the ferrochrome processing facility which Noront Resources awarded to Sault Ste. Marie earlier this year.

“I still have the same opinion (as he had in May when Noront made it announcement) we’re going to get it,” said Pirie, shortly before Friday’s start of the annual general meeting of the Timmins Economic Development Corporation.” It won’t get built in Sault Ste. Marie.

“They haven’t done the consultations with the right Indigenous groups. You can see the fact that they don’t have the right area set up for the product and the tailings facilities — we do. Continue Reading →