The University of Limpopo and the Department of Science and Technology have launched a manganese beneficiation plant in Mpumalanga.
Manganese is a key element in lithium-ion batteries, and the R30-million pilot plant was built as a research facility – with the aim to turn it into a full commercial facility.
Lithium-ion batteries are used in cellphones, laptops, pacemakers, and more, and South Africa has 80% of the world’s high-grade manganese ore reserves.
Minister Naledi Pandor said that once production is up to 10,000 tonnes per year, the facility is expected to have an annual turnover of R310 million and have created 1,600 jobs, reported the City Press.
Beneficiation of the manganese in South Africa increases the value of the exported product twenty-fold.
Manganese ore is currently exported for around $100 per tonne, while the lithium-ion manganese oxide precursor goes for $2,000 per tonne.