EVRAZ Highveld Steel’s financial problems were a company-changer for Bushveld Minerals. Until then it had undeveloped vanadium, iron ore, coal and tin projects in South Africa and Madagascar, and an AIM listing that was largely getting the cold shoulder. The acquisition of an initial stake in the Vametco vanadium mine and processing plant from Highveld’s owners, which it has subsequently increased, provides it with an operating asset at a time when vanadium prices are rising. China now requires its steelmakers to add specified quantities of vanadium to rebar and other structural steel. Vametco produces about 3-5% of the world’s vanadium and Mojapelo is targeting 10% in the next few years as Vametco is investing in increased capacity. But Mojapelo is not stopping at being a vanadium supplier to the steel industry. Bushveld now has its own subsidiary developing and promoting utility-scale vanadium redox flow-batteries and has persuaded Eskom to test one. Bushveld and the Industrial Development Corporation are looking at the technical and economic viability of building a vanadium electrolyte production plant in South Africa. Getting onto the energy storage bandwagon is a share price booster. Bushveld is still sucking up cash, but shareholders are supportive.
LIFE OF FORTUNE
Mojapelo was the first CEO of Bushveld Minerals, after starting several other junior mining ventures through his company, VM Investment. He was previously a consultant with McKinsey, where he worked on corporate strategy and organisational development in South Africa and Nigeria. He has a BSc in Actuarial Science from the University of Cape Town.
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