Chrome Mining in South Africa

South Africa is the dominant global supplier of chrome ore and ferrochrome, which are irreplaceable components of China-dominated stainless steel production.

South Africa’s Chrome Production

In 2017, South Africa delivered half of the world’s production of chrome ore, and has the capacity to produce 4.2 million tonnes of ferrochrome a year. In 2016, South Africa produced 15.1 million tonnes, which equated to 54% of global production, according to Mining Weekly. South Africa and Zimbabwe hold about 90% of the world's chromite reserves and resources.

Total Mining Projects in SA

Chrome Mining Projects in SA

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Early mining of chromite was on a small-scale and was relatively straightforward from outcrops or to shallow depths followed by hand sorting. However, with the increased demand, conventional open-pit mining and mechanical underground mining became necessary. There was sufficient high-grade metallurgical ore to meet demand but with the rapid growth of the stainless and other alloy steel industries, the much larger reserves of the lower grade, higher iron, ores have had to be exploited.

Glencore-Merafe Chrome Venture, Samancor Chrome, and Hernic Ferrochrome are some of the South African chromite and ferrochrome producing companies. However, the industry has seen a growth in the number of integrated operations, where traditional ore mining companies have integrated into smelting.


*image courtesy of Memor Mining (Pty) Ltd

South Africa has a mature chrome value chain, the socio-economic impact of which includes approximately 200,000 jobs and approximately R42 billion in GDP per annum. However, the South African ferrochrome industry is under pressure. China is South Africa’s largest trading partner, however, China’s capacity to smelt ferrochrome is expected to rise about that of South Africa’s.


*image courtesy of Memor Mining (Pty) Ltd

The pricing of and demand for ferrochrome are influenced by global economic conditions, exchange rates, the demand for stainless steel and chromite supply. Although local ferrochrome companies are among the lowest-cost producers in the world, the slump in commodity prices since 2013 has meant that only four of the seven South African ferrochrome producers are currently operational. Sales of ferrochrome to China, the world’s largest importer of South African ferrochrome, are being negatively affected by increased exports of South African chromite, which is enabling the growth of the Chinese ferrochrome industry.


*image courtesy of the International Chromium Development Association (ICDA)

Africa is one of the most mineral-rich continents in the world. Resources in Africa are still largely untapped and despite the hundreds of mining projects in Africa, there is massive room for growth. The future of mining is in Africa – but not without research and guidance.

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Chrome Mining Projects in South Africa

When looking to target business opportunities with South Africa's chrome producers, global investors and more than 170 companies are turning to Africa Mining IQ for its up-to-date mining intelligence, insight into Africa's chrome mining projects and key contact details.

AMIQ has detailed information on South Africa's largest chrome mining projects, including:

  • International Ferro Metal: Ferrochrome Plant (Buffelsfontein, North West province)
  • International Ferro Metal: Sky Chrome Mine (North West Province)
  • Glencore Xstrata: Lion Ferrochrome Smelter Expansion (Mpumalanga)
  • Tata Steel Company: Ferrochrome Smelter (KwaZulu Natal)
  • Samancor: Lwala Open Cast Chome Project (Mpumalanga)
  • Samancor: MooiNooi Tailing Plant (North West Province)
  • Samancor: Tweefontien Development Project (North West Province)

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