Manganese rises in value

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

Manganese shot from sixth to fourth place behind the platinum family, coal and gold as South Africa's most valuable mining product in April.

Manganese ore sales rocketed 145percent from R830million in March to over R2billion in April, Statistics South Africa reported yesterday. Manganese sales in April were nine times the R235million in April last year.

This rapid rise carried manganese past iron ore whose month-on-month sales increased 15percent to R1,8billion.

Manganese also overtook "other non-metallic minerals" where sales slumped 33percent.

Manganese has been boosted by both its price rocketing from $7,25 (about R54) a ton at the start of the year to $17 a ton in July, and also major producers BHP Billiton and Assmang ramping up production, while Kumba's iron production has slipped slightly.

Platinum coming off a near $2250 (about R17000) an ounce peak in March to around $2000 dragged total mining sales down nearly two percent to R25billion.

The platinum family contributed nearly a third of the country's total mining sales, coal slightly over a fifth, gold 15percent, manganese eight percent and iron ore seven percent.

Platinum group metal sales fell 11percent to R8billion in April from R9billion in March.

Gold sales fell 11percent to R3,6billion on a weaker price despite mines continuing to improve their output thanks to more power from Eskom.