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South African Firm Boosts Manganese for EV Batteries

MMC Advances in Battery Sector with New Sulphate Production

by Adenike Adeodun

The Manganese Metal Company (MMC), located in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, South Africa, is taking significant steps in the expanding battery metal market by shifting from being a traditional manganese metal producer to becoming a vital player in the manganese sulphate market for electric vehicle (EV) batteries. As one of the world’s leading producers of the purest form of manganese with 99.9% purity, MMC’s strategic shift to the rapidly evolving battery sector has positioned them at the forefront of the industry, capitalizing on South Africa’s abundant manganese resources.

MMC has initiated an ambitious project to transform its high-purity manganese metal into manganese sulphate, a critical component for the production of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. This move is strategically aligned with the global trend towards decarbonization and the increasing demand for renewable energy solutions. Manganese sulphate is essential for battery manufacturers since it combines with lithium, nickel, and cobalt to create advanced battery chemistries that power modern EVs.

The decision to enter the EV battery market was driven by MMC’s realization that many of its customers were already converting its manganese metal into manganese sulphate themselves. By producing manganese sulphate directly, MMC aims to supply this essential material more efficiently to battery manufacturers around the world, enhancing its market reach and competitive edge. This initiative is supported by substantial investments, including an R540-million funding commitment for an ore-to-sulphate project in Mbombela, pending final approval from South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation.

MMC has initiated the construction of a crystallizer facility to enter the market quickly and respond to immediate industry needs. This facility is designed to dissolve high-purity manganese metal and recrystallize it into manganese sulphate, which serves as a bridge to the more extensive ore-to-sulphate project. The primary aim of the project is to transform manganese ore directly into manganese sulphate on a larger scale.

MMC aims to convert 2,000 tons of manganese metal into 6,000 tons of manganese sulphate within 18 to 20 months. This proactive approach is crucial as it meets the immediate demands of the battery market, which is expanding rapidly due to the global push towards electric vehicles.

The implications of MMC’s venture into the manganese sulphate market are significant for South Africa. If the country processes manganese ore domestically instead of exporting it in its raw form, it can benefit immensely from the added value. This shift holds the promise of enhancing South Africa’s industrial capabilities and positioning it as a key supplier in the global battery materials market. This, in turn, can lead to increased job creation, technological advancements, and economic growth.

MMC’s expansion comes at a time when there are global supply chain realignments and increased interest in securing critical minerals for battery production. By establishing a local production facility for manganese sulphate, South Africa can secure a more significant role in the global energy transition. This will align with international efforts to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable energy sources.

MMC is continuously developing its facilities and expanding its production capabilities while maintaining its position as a pioneer in the manganese industry. With over 50 years of experience in producing high-quality manganese products, MMC is well-equipped to adapt and thrive in the evolving market. The company’s ongoing projects and future plans reflect a strategic vision that aligns with global economic trends, sustainability, and renewable energy solutions.

MMC’s shift towards manganese sulphate production for battery applications is a testament to its innovation and adaptability. This development represents a significant advancement in South Africa’s mining and manufacturing sectors, highlighting the critical role of manganese in the global push towards electrification and renewable energy. As the project progresses, MMC is set to play a vital role in the global supply chain for battery materials, contributing to the growth and sustainability of the electric vehicle market.


Source: Mining Weekly

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