Archive | Chromium/Platinum Group Metals

Strong outlook for recovering ferrochrome industry – Merafe – by Martin Creamer ( – March 8, 2017)

JOHANNESBURG ( – Ferrochrome and chrome ore prices recovered from rock bottom in the first quarter of last year to levels twice and four times higher respectively in 2017, a year in which a shortage of electricity supply has ceased to be a constraining factor, ferrochrome company Merafe reports.

Despite market volatility in the 12 months to December 31, coupled with the challenges and cost pressures faced by the South African ferrochrome industry, the company, headed by CEO Zanele Matlala, reported the second highest headline earnings in its history – and goes into the new year with a strong demand outlook.

Matlala said in response to Mining Weekly Online that higher ferrochrome and chrome ore prices are expected to continue for the first quarter of 2017, which she described as being indicative of a market still in deficit. Continue Reading →

Look to public-private partnerships to build infrastructure for Ring of Fire – by Joseph Quesnel and Kenneth Green (Thunder Bay chronicle-Journal – March 1, 2017)

Joseph Quesnel is a senior fellow with the Fraser Institute.Kenneth Green is senior director of natural resource studies at the Fraser Institute.

It has been 10 years since the discovery of a massive chromite deposit in Northern Ontario, which could be a game changer for the region’s economy. But despite this potential, the developers are still as far away from bringing a mine into operation today as they were a decade ago.

Known as the Ring of Fire, the area is rich with deposits of chromite — which is used in the production of stainless steel — nickel and copper.

The possible upside of the region’s economic potential is tremendous. At one point, then Conservative treasury board president Tony Clement called the Ring of Fire an economic equivalent of the Alberta oil sands given the projected investment required. That may be an exaggeration of course, but the deposit nevertheless has the potential for thousands of jobs for several decades of mining. Continue Reading →

KWG favours railway to Ring – by Ben Leeson (Sudbury Star – February 13, 2017)

KWG Resources sees a bright future for the Ring of Fire and believes the best way to reach that future is on iron rails.

KWG is an original player in the Ring, a large deposit of chromite and other metals in the mineral-rich James Bay Lowlands, about 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. In 2006, the company took part in the first major discovery of chromite, a key component in making stainless steel.

“We came to the realization that the biggest consumers of chromium on the planet are the Chinese stainless steel makers,” said Moe Lavigne, KWG’s vice-president of exploration and development. In the chromite-chromium-ferrochrome industry, the metals are exchanged under offtake agreements, between the resource producer and the buyer, rather than in an open market like nickel, copper and gold. Continue Reading →

Zimbabwe to double ferrochrome production to 300,000 tonnes – by MacDonald Dzirutwe (Reuters Africa – February 2, 2017)

HARARE Feb 2 (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s ferrochrome production is expected to double to 300,000 tonnes this year after the government allocated chrome concessions to small mining companies as part of efforts to boost output, the mines minister said on Thursday.

Walter Chidhakwa said last year the country earned $115 million from 149,000 tonnes of ferrochrome, which is used in the production of stainless steel. Zimbabwe holds the world’s second largest deposits of chrome, which is smelted to produce ferrochrome. Raw chrome exports are expected to reach 550,000 tonnes from 285,000 tonnes, the mines minister told reporters.

“We are projecting 300,000 tonnes of ferrochrome for 2017 as a result of the measures we have taken in allocating the chrome concessions,” Chidhakwa said. Zimbabwe is pushing large mining companies to give up part of their concessions for distribution to individuals and smaller mines, which has helped in the gold sector, where small scale miners have tripled output to over 8 tonnes since 2014. Continue Reading →

Glencore Considering Bid for Impala’s Chrome Waste Operations – by Loni Prinsloo and Kevin Crowley (Bloomberg News – January 31, 2017)

Glencore Plc, the mining and trading firm run by billionaire Ivan Glasenberg, is considering bidding for Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd.’s 65 percent stake in a chrome waste-retreatment operation in South Africa, two people familiar with the matter said.

Glencore already has an agreement to buy metal from Chrome Traders Processing (Pty) Ltd., the closely held company that owns 30 percent of the business controlled by Impala.

Glencore, which has chrome assets nearby, is bullish on prices and keen to grow its presence in the industry that supplies stainless steelmakers with the ingredient that prevents corrosion, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Continue Reading →

Ottawa cools to Ring of Fire’s potential – by Rachelle Younglai (Globe and Mail – December 21, 2016)

Ottawa has been throwing cold water on the Ring of Fire, a mineral deposit in Northern Ontario that was once thought to be worth more than $60-billion.

Since the federal Liberal Party came to power last year, the government has stonewalled requests to pay for infrastructure, lowered expectations for development and slashed its valuation for the deposit, according to internal Department of Natural Resources documents obtained by The Globe and Mail.

The skepticism among federal ranks has proven to be another barrier to mining the 5,000-square-kilometre crescent of mostly chromite in the boggy James Bay lowlands and boreal forest. Development of the Ring was already facing significant challenges: No permanent road access, no power, environmental concerns, a prolonged commodities slump and scores of unresolved issues with the nine First Nations groups that live in the region. Continue Reading →

Arrested Development: Down, down, down? Ring of Fire still a burning question – by Sunny Freeman (Financial Post – December 13, 2016)

The nine chiefs of the Matawa First Nations closest to Ontario’s Ring of Fire gathered around a conference table in July 2013 at what seemed like a historic crossroads to debate the merits of development in a region that had never before experienced it.

Promises of jobs, revenue sharing and infrastructure improvements, some said, could bring prosperity to the struggling communities. On the other hand, development could come too rapidly and at too high a cost to their land and traditional way of life. They needn’t have worried. Three years later, development of the 5,000-square-kilometre area of the James Bay Lowlands is still stuck in neutral.

The Ring of Fire is a deposit of minerals — including nickel, copper, gold, zinc and the extremely rare chromite — some 540 kilometres north of Thunder Bay that is said to be worth up to $60 billion. Dubbed “Canada’s next oilsands,” it could be the biggest resource development Ontario has seen in more than a century. Continue Reading →

Bound by wild desire, Sault mayor falls into burning Ring of Fire – by David Helwig (Soo Today – December 11, 2016)

Mayor Christian Provenzano is pushing hard to keep his foot in the door of Noront Resources Ltd. – the Ring of Fire developer that wants to build a ferrochrome smelter somewhere in Ontario

Plans by a Toronto-based mineral exploration company to build a ferrochrome smelter somewhere in Ontario may come up for discussion at Monday’s meeting of Sault Ste. Marie City Council.

Mayor Christian Provenzano has placed a letter he wrote to Noront Resources Ltd. on the meeting’s agenda. Noront has the largest land position in the Ring of Fire, the massive emerging multi-metals development project located in the mineral-rich James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario.

This fall, the company disclosed that it is considering the Sault, Hamilton, Thunder Bay, Timmins and Sudbury as possible locations for a ferrochrome smelter to service the Ring of Fire project. Ferrochrome is primarily used in making stainless steel with a chromium content of 10 per cent to 20 per cent. Continue Reading →

High ferrochrome prices could speed sector consolidation -sources – by Pratima Desai (Daily Mail/Reuters – November 30, 2016)

LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Rocketing ferrochrome prices are expected to accelerate consolidation among producers in South Africa, increasing the global stainless steel industry’s reliance on mining group Glencore and chrome ore company Samancor.

Nearly 60 percent of the world’s production of global chrome ore — used to make stainless steel raw material ferrochrome — comes from South Africa, where Glencore and Samancor are casting an acquisitive eye over smaller rival Hernic Ferrochrome.

Four Sources in the stainless steel and ferrochrome industries told Reuters that Glencore is looking to reinforce its dominant position with the purchase of Hernic, which is majority owned by Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. Continue Reading →

Tom Dodds’ new best friends dabble in the Ring of Fire – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – November 11, 2016)

Al Coutts, president of Noront Resources, swooped into Sault Ste.Marie, Nov. 4, for a tour of the city, courtesy of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation.

It’s not known if this is the start of a beautiful friendship with the Ring of Fire, but the nickel and chromite mine developer decided to tweet a photo of Coutts and his chief development officer, Steve Flewelling, with economic development chief executive Tom Dodds on the city‘s waterfront.

“He came out, we gave him a tour of the town,” said Dodds, “we showed him possible areas…of industrial land that would make sense to them. “We’re walking into city hall and he says, let’s take a picture. I said, if you’re feeling inclined to publicize that you’re here, far be it for me to say no. “

Dodds cautioned that the visit was very exploratory and doesn’t want to build unrealistic expectations that the Toronto-based mine developer is in a position to target the Sault for a chromite processing operation. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Stainless steel surge impacts nickel and ferro-chrome – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – October 11, 2016)

LONDON, Oct 11 Global steel demand will rise by a meagre 0.2 percent this year, according to the World Steel Association (WSA). Next year won’t be much better with a forecast of just 0.5 percent growth. But it could have been worse. The WSA has upped its forecasts from April, when it was expecting demand to fall by 0.8 percent this year.

The improvement is all about China, where production and demand have been lifted by the government’s latest stimulus package, another push of the infrastructure and construction buttons. Within the steel universe, however, one sector is faring much better.

Stainless steel production rebounded strongly in the first half of this year, thanks again to China. And that has implications for two of the metallic inputs into the stainless production process, nickel and ferro-chrome. Continue Reading →

Ferrochrome price in sharp rise – by Martin Creamer ( – September 26, 2016)

JOHANNESBURG ( – The European benchmark ferrochrome price for the fourth quarter of 2016 has been settled at 110c a pound, 12.2% up on the 98c-a-pound price of the third quarter.

Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Merafe Resources said last month that it expected to benefit from renewed positive ferrochrome demand trends, as well as from only four of seven South African ferrochrome producers currently being in production.

Merafe – headed by CEO Zanele Matlala – generates income primarily from the Glencore–Merafe Chrome Venture. In reporting its results for the six months ended June 30, Merafe indicated higher demand prospects for ferrochrome on the likelihood of global stainless steel production growing 2.6% this year and by 3.1% in 2017. Continue Reading →

[Pacific North West Capital Corp.] Sudbury Accent: Slump easing for exploration company – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – September 17, 2016)

Say you’re a barber who runs your own shop, and you haven’t had a customer in your chair for five years. You may be tempted to give up, to literally throw in the towel, even enter another line of work. But you hang in there.

Finally, after a half-decade of inactivity, customers begin to return, slowly at first, but growing in number as word spreads you’re back and in business, and offering a good product. Harry Barr used that analogy this week at a town hall meeting in Sudbury intended to drum up interest in Pacific North West Capital Corp.’s River Valley Platinum Group Metal Project.

After a brutal five-year period, in which low commodity prices spooked investors away from sinking money into mineral exploration, interest in the River Valley project began to grow again. The presentation at the Holiday Inn, hosted by Barr, capped off two days of tours in which 30 or more people toured the River Valley property and visited the core shed for the project 100 kilometres northeast of Sudbury. Continue Reading →

Life After Consolidation: The South African Ferrochrome Industry Landscape – by Lara Smith ( – September 15, 2016)

Over the last eighteen months or so, a number of South African producers either went into business rescue or reduced their ferrochrome output. At the end of the third quarter, chrome ore prices reached a six-year low, though by July, prices had rebounded to its highest levels since 2008, driven by Chinese demand and relatively low chrome ore inventory levels.

The recovery in chrome ore prices has coincided with the consolidation of the South African ferrochorme industry. This follows the closure of Tata (KZN), International Ferro Metals (IFM) and ASA Metals (ASA). Common to these three producers are that they were not fully vertically integrated.

Either they had no direct ownership of chrome ore assets (Tata) or they had relatively high cost mines. Mitsubishi has announced that it is ready to sell its stake in Hernic ferrochrome, which appears to face similar challenges to IFM and ASA, namely that of high cost ore production. Continue Reading →

ASTEROID APPROACHING: NASA’s latest mission will show if asteroid mining will be a real threat to the global platinum industry – by Lynsey Chutel (Quartz Africa – September 9, 2016)

A successful space mission could alter the destiny of Rustenburg, a dusty mining district in South Africa. On Sept. 8, NASA launched the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer or OSIRIS-Rex.

OSIRIS-Rex’s mission is to travel to the asteroid Bennu and return with a sample of “scientific treasure.” Among that treasure could be the potential to unlock thousands of tons of platinum, the main source of income for Rustenburg, and a significant revenue source for South Africa’s mining industry, the world’s number one platinum producer.

Thanks to studies of meteorites, we know that asteroids contain vast mineral wealth. OSIRIS-Rex is set to reach its destination in 2018 and will return a sample of between 60 grams to 2,000 grams (between 2 and 70 ounces) to earth. If the seven-year mission is a success, aspirant asteroid miners will be closer to dragging a platinum-rich asteroid closer to Earth, or mining it right there in zero-gravity. That could see Luxembourg could compete with South Africa, Russia and Zimbabwe, the world’s top platinum producers. Continue Reading →