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Menar Expands Mining Operations with New Manganese, Anthracite Projects

Company Diversifies into Global Markets Amid Rising Demand for Critical Minerals

by Adenike Adeodun

Menar, a private investment company, has been making significant progress in the mining sector. They have been focusing on advancing their manganese projects and expanding into the anthracite market. These initiatives aim to strengthen the company’s market position and contribute to the global supply chains of critical minerals and energy resources.

In 2021, Menar began its venture into the manganese industry with the launch of the East Manganese project in South Africa’s Northern Cape. The project has been successful, producing 30,000 tons a month of 36.5% manganese ore, which is crushed and shipped to various customers. Recently, the operation achieved a significant milestone with its first bulk shipment of 55,000 tons of manganese out of Port Elizabeth, facilitated by a partnership with Transnet.

“The bulk shipment out of Port Elizabeth marks a significant achievement for Menar and the manganese industry,” said Menar Managing Director Vuslat Bayoğlu during a Zoom interview with Mining Weekly. “However, we face ongoing challenges with railway logistics, which restrict our ability to move products efficiently to ports.”

Beyond its initial project, Menar is assessing a second manganese site, also in the Northern Cape, which promises to be an underground operation. This new venture comes at a time when manganese prices have reached $5.36 per dry metric tonne unit, signaling robust market demand primarily driven by the metal’s increasing use in electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

Menar is not limiting its manganese ambitions to South Africa. The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Gabon to develop manganese projects there, recognizing Gabon’s potential as a significant player in the manganese market.

Furthermore, Menar is exploring opportunities beyond manganese, looking into iron ore projects and expanding its existing nickel asset in Turkey. The latter is particularly strategic given its potential to supply nickel to the European market—a critical component for EV batteries. “Our nickel project in Turkey is poised to increase production capacity for Europe, which is just a three-day truck journey to major battery production hubs like Germany,” Bayoğlu explained.

Menar is also active in the anthracite market, recognizing the coal variant’s importance in producing steel, ferrochrome, ferrosilicon, and ferromanganese. The Zululand Anthracite Colliery (ZAC) in South Africa, where Menar has recently initiated the Mngeni shaft, plays a vital role as the country’s sole prime anthracite producer. This new adit, developed with an investment of R150 million, is expected to produce 150,000 tons of anthracite annually.

“We see anthracite as a growth market for us, and it is also part of our diversification strategy,” Bayoğlu stated. “Unlike thermal coal, anthracite serves a different market with different dynamics, including strong demand from international customers in Brazil, the US, Vietnam, and Ukraine.”

In addition to mining developments, Menar is closely monitoring South Africa’s energy landscape, particularly the performance of Eskom, the national electricity provider. Recent improvements at Eskom have sparked optimism about the potential end of load shedding—a chronic issue that has hampered industrial productivity and investment.

“Eskom has surpassed the 50-day mark without power cuts, a testament to the effective management and maintenance programs currently in place,” Bayoğlu remarked. This stability is crucial for the broader adoption of renewable energy, complementing the baseload provided by traditional sources.

As Menar continues to expand its operations, the performance of Transnet, South Africa’s state-owned freight transport and logistics company, remains a critical factor. Recent reforms and investments in Transnet are aimed at improving its service delivery and operational efficiency, which are vital for Menar and other mining companies to transport their products effectively to global markets.

“In light of Transnet’s ongoing challenges with infrastructure and locomotive availability, the involvement of the private sector through recent legislative reforms is a welcome development,” said Bayoğlu. “These changes are essential for ensuring that Transnet can recover fully and meet the industry’s needs.”

As Menar progresses with its diversified portfolio of mining and energy projects, the company is strategically positioning itself to capitalize on the growing demand for minerals and energy resources essential for the global transition to cleaner technologies. This strategic expansion not only enhances Menar’s footprint in the mining sector but also contributes to the broader economic development and energy security of the regions in which it operates.


Source: Mining Weekly

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