‘We aim to be the largest manganese producer globally’
WE said last year that South Africa’s manganese sector was worth watching for corporate activity. Sadly, the action didn’t materialise, but Brad Rogers at Jupiter Mines, a 49.9% shareholder in the Tshipi manganese ore mine, could yet kickstart it. At the firm’s AGM in September he outlined a five-point strategy that had “aggressive” production growth at its heart. He also said “a process” had been started. At 3.5 million tons in manganese ore output a year, Tshipi is the largest of around 10 manganese producers tightly boxed in a 32km stretch of manganese-rich land in the Northern Cape.
This concentration makes South Africa the only major manganese-producing country with reserves larger than current production. So with global supply of manganese set to fade, South Africa is ideally placed to grow. But how in a way that best uses limited rail capacity? One pathway is the consolidation of Jupiter Mines with Ntsimbintle Holdings, Tshipi’s 50.1% controlling shareholder, controlled by Safika Holdings – a company chaired by Saki Macozoma. Time will tell. What will be clearer this year is Jupiter’s plans for battery-grade manganese output following recent success with a bespoke product. The update will provide clarity on the cost and location of a refinery – most likely to be North America or Europe – and the possibility for concentrate production in South Africa.
It’s a tricky cogitation, however: battery-grade manganese is used in electric vehicles and requires displacement of cobalt and nickel EV battery applications as well as EV demand growth which is hard to forecast. All has to be achieved while sticking to Jupiter’s 70% payout policy, navigating logistical challenges, and without losing sight that carbon steel remains the bread and butter for manganese producers.
LIFE OF BRAD
Rogers joined Jupiter Mines in August 2022 following the high-octane ouster of previous management. He is a chartered accountant with experience in engineering and infrastructure. Prior to joining Jupiter Mines, Rogers was at Bis, a mining services company, for about seven years. He also worked at Arthur Andersen and Mainsheet Corporate, a consulting services business. He graduated from Curtin University in Western Australia’s Perth.