Financial reports, News, South32

Unheralded battery metal soars

Manganese is having its day in the sun with a jump in prices turning heads to the metal.

The recent boost in prices has prompted Jupiter Mines to release an update on the landscape of the manganese market.

The update looks at cross-commodity price reporter Fastmarkets, which takes into account two indices.

The first is a cost, insurance and freight (CIF) basis for the Port of Tianjin in China where most manganese is exported to, and the second is a free on board (FOB) basis for the Port of Elizabeth in South Africa, where most of the manganese is exported from.

As of May 28, the prices published by Fastmarkets for 37 per cent manganese ore content are $US6.29 per dry metric tonne units (dmtu) on a CIF basis and $US5.43/dmtu on a FOB basis.

At 30 April, the date of Jupiter’s March quarterly update, the prices were $US4.80/dmtu on a CIF basis and $US3.92/dmtu on a FOB basis.

The highest previous price recorded was $US7.96/dmtu in November 2016.

“We are expecting manganese prices to be higher than the historical average for the coming months,” Jupiter Mines head of marketing Tracey Cloete said.

“This is mainly due to supply disruptions as a result of Cyclone Megan which impacted the GEMCO operations.”

South32 suspended operations until further notice at its Groote Eylandt Mining Company (GEMCO) operation in northern Australia in March due to the cyclone.

“We have seen inventory levels drawn down since November 2023 when producers in South Africa did start to cut back on export volumes” Cloete said.

Inventory levels are again being drawn down as a result of less supply from the GEMCO operation into China.

“Typically as inventory levels decline, prices are supported because there is less material in China that can be consumed by plants,” Cloete said.

With manganese prices expected to continue their ascent, it’s certainly an exciting time for industry players to fill the gap temporarily left by GEMCO like ConsMin, which owns the Woodie Woodie manganese mine in Western Australia, and OM Holdings, owner of the Bootu Creek manganese mine in the Northern Territory.

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