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Dissatisfaction To Government With Regulations For Cr-Ore Export Is Whirling In South Africa
= Fe-Cr Producers Are Complaining About Delay Of Measures To Control Cr-Ore Export
The exports of chrome ore from South Africa have been continuing to increase and, particularly, an expansion of the exports for China is remarkable. China imported 1,245,000 tons of chrome ore from South Africa in the first half (January - June) of 2008, which had a considerable increase of 55.4% compared with that (801,000 tons) in the same period of 2007.

The total quantity of chrome ore imported into China in the first half of 2008 came to 3,486,000 tons, compared to 2,835,000 tons in the same period of 2007, and the imports of chrome ore into China in the calendar year (January - December) of 2008 are anticipated to reach a scale of 7,000,000 tons per annum. On the other hand, South African producers were initially expected to increase substantially China's imports of ferro-chrome (charge chrome) in 2008 but the imports by China have come to a standstill at present. Ferro-chrome producers of South Africa had a judgment that China will import 2,000,000 tons per annum of ferro-chrome in 2008 and become the largest country in the world to import ferro-chrome, because China imported 1,348,000 tons of ferro-chrome in the preceding calendar year of 2007.

South African side estimated that the imports of South African charge chrome into China in 2008 will share more than 50% of the whole import, because the share of South African product imported into China in 2007 reached 40%. However, in view of the quantity of ferro-chrome imported from South Africa into China in the first half of 2008, this expectation to have a considerable increase of the imports from South Africa by China has failed to materialize. China imported only 658,000 tons of high carbon ferro-chrome in the first half of 2008, which had a slight increase of 4.4% compared with that (630,000 tons) in the same period of 2007. The above 658,000 tons included 362,000 tons of high carbon ferro-chrome imported from South Africa in the first half of 2008, having increased by 70% compared to that (212,000 tons) in the same period of 2007, but South African side has been dissatisfied with this level of imports.

The largest reason for this inactivity of South African charge chrome imported into China in the first half of 2008 is that China has been endeavoring to import chrome ore from all sources of the world as raw material for production of ferro-chrome and to become the largest country for imports of chrome ore. As far as China is able to secure chrome ore as raw material, this country is possible to produce ferro-chrome by themselves at local plants and, in order to set up this structure for self-sufficiency, the Chinese enterprises concerned are moving from the beginning of 2008 to materialize this target, enabling to supply Chinese stainless steel mills with ferro-chrome produced in China. The world market of manganese ore is developing on an oligopoly by 5 - 6 major mining companies and the supplies are being restricted. However, reflecting a steep rise of price for chrome ore, the sources to import chrome ore are enlarging and it is currently possible to procure chrome ore with quantities as required.

South African producers of ferro-chrome have been not satisfied with this unexpected development of the market for chrome ore. Since 2 - 3 years ago, ferro-chrome producers in South Africa have been requesting the Government of South Africa to enforce the regulations for export of chrome ore from South Africa. At a conference held in South Africa, a high official of the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) suggested this direction. It has been viewed that the matter to export chrome ore from South Africa will be regulated sooner or later, but an enforcement of the regulations has delayed at present.

On the other hand, in parallel with nickel project (Nkomat Nickel) and platinum project (to recover platinum from UD-2 seam) being active at present, the composition to produce a large quantity of low grade chrome ore (Cr2O3 40%) as by-product has been formed in South Africa, because the seam for mining has changed from Merensky seam to UD-2 seam, having contained more chrome ore. The exports of chrome ore from these mines are currently busy in South Africa. In the market of chrome in China, the composition, which ferro-chrome produced in South Africa unintentionally competes with chrome ore produced in South Africa, is being formed. A majority of chrome ore exported from South Africa to China is low grade chrome ore (run-of-mine) without process for ore dressing and the exports of this grade ore from South Africa to China have increased. The bottleneck to transport chrome ore in South Africa is railway and the inland transportation by trucks has become rather busy than that by railway. The charge to transport chrome ore by trucks is higher than that by railway but the steeply risen price of chrome ore for export is fully able to cover this higher transportation fee by trucks.

There is a movement in South Africa that the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) has to be enforced and the exports of resources from South Africa are regulated under this act. The DME has an intention to enforce the regulations for exports of South African resources but it will take a longer time for discussion on the regulations at South African Assembly and the matter in question is unable to progress. On the other hand, a crisis of electric power has suddenly emerged from the end January of 2008 in South Africa and this emergent occurrence has turned out an advantage for mining companies of chrome ore. The industry to produce ferro-chrome is understood as that to consume a large volume of electric power but the industry to mine chrome ore is noted as that to consume only 1/10 of electric power in comparison with the power consumption for production of ferro-chrome. On the other hand, Eskom, national electric power corporation of South Africa, is moving to freeze new investments in industries to consume more electric power for the next 4 years. When the future of South Africa is taken into consideration, the business to mine chrome ore in South Africa is unable to abandon. Some of European enterprises are newly launching in business to mine chrome ore in South Africa.

The situation, which exports of primary products are properly contributing to the industries in South Africa, is clearly coming up. The Government of India commenced from 2007 to regulate exports of Indian chrome ore and has adopted such measures as to impose export duties, to raise its floor prices for exports, and so on, but the Government of South Africa has postponed to enforce the regulations for exports of chrome ore from South Africa. This aspect has made up a cause to be a dissatisfactoion with ferro-chrome producers in South Africa.

The Government of South Africa has understood that the industry to export chrome ore from South Africa is properly suitable for the economic soil of South Africa (the industry to intensify work force). Nevertheless, the Government has so far asked South African industries to raise the value to be added and, accordingly, is not in a position to assume the attitude of an onlooker. Therefore, the future of business to export chrome ore from South Africa is not clearly foreseen.
last modified : Wed 27 Aug, 2008 [10:57]
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