Monday, December 18, 2017
Daphne Mashile-Nkosi

Daphne Mashile-Nkosi

Kalagadi Manganese

THE noise around Mashile-Nkosi’s dispute with her partner ArcelorMittal has dimmed, but the feisty head of the ambitious R11bn Kalagadi manganese mine, sinter, and smelter project has had to face an even more intimidating foe: prolonged weak manganese prices. This led ArcelorMittal to fully write down its investment by $283m in its 2015 financial year. Just as prices started to firm in the first part of 2016, the mine was hit by large-scale copper cable theft, requiring Mashile-Nkosi to find another R33m to replace it. But with strong backing from the state in the form of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Kalagadi Manganese has managed to survive. The mine will come into production in the first quarter of 2017, but the smelter at Coega has been deferred indefinitely. Mashile-Nkosi, whose latest award was the 2015 Africa Female Business Leader of the Year, has received numerous accolades for her achievement in building a mine from scratch in a male-dominated industry. She has made it a condition of the joint venture deal with ArcelorMittal and the IDC that Kalagadi will always be chaired by a woman. She says her strength is that she doesn’t take “no” for an answer, but that’s also likely to have made her several enemies in a relatively small industry.


She grew up in a poor family near the mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest and she and her late husband Stanley were political activists. Before her consortium was awarded a mining licence for the manganese project in 2005 she worked for the National Movement of Rural Women. She sits on the board of other women’s investment groups and Sanral.

“Nobody owes women any favours because of their gender.”