South African tin producer Phamine Mining, which is to open a new smelter plant in Limpopo next month, has secured a tin supply contract for steel manufacturer Iscor.
The empowerment group entered the mining industry in 1999 and said it had made big inroads to secure about 80 per cent of SA's tin market. Phamine Mining's operations are centred largely on tin plating, used to make cans for the food industry
"We have an offtake agreement, via a third party, to supply Iscor with tin", said Phamine CEO and executive chairman Lucas Mkhwanazi.
He said Phamine produced 80 per cent of the estimated 2,776 tons of tin used in SA every year. Phamine will start processing tin concentrates at its R27 million (€2.8m) tin smelter when it starts operating in mid-July.
The tin smelter, to be based in Leeuwpoort, will process tin concentrates from the company's Doornhoek and Rooiberg plants. The Doornhoek plant is already in operation, while the Rooiberg one is still being designed and is likely to be completed in six months' time. Mkhwanazi said the company had about 20 years of tin supply at the two mines.
Phamine does not mine underground, instead sourcing its raw material from old tin dumps that contain tin-bearing concentrates in Limpopo. This, Mkhwanazi said, had enabled Phamine to cut production costs by about 50 per cent.
Phamine is 30 per cent owned by empowerment group Phakula Investments, while a further 30 per cent is owned by Structor Investments, a consortium of mining experts. The remaining 40 per cent stake is owned by Phamine management and staff.
Tin mining in SA came to an end with the closure of Zaaiplaats and Rooiberg mines about 10 years ago. Mkhwanazi said that, because of the capital intensive nature of the mining industry, the group decided to revive tin mining and establish a niche market for itself in SA, which had been relying on tin imports.