China’s International Resources Ltd (IRL) has bought the Mapochs iron ore mine and associated railway near the town of Roossenekal in Mpumalanga Province, far from the centre of the South African iron ore mining industry in the Northern Cape. The asset, which was sold via a closed bid tender in September for ZAR50M (US$3.6M), was previously owned by Russian firm Evraz.
Mapochs previously produced 2.2 Mtpa, although there is understood to be scope for higher volumes. It is not yet clear how much rehabilitation of the railway, which connects with the South African rail network, will be required, nor how much new rolling stock is needed.
Aside from iron ore, the concession also contains vanadium, the flakes of which are used in batteries. Vanadium prices have doubled over the past two years, partly because of lower global supplies, but also because of growing interest in largescale electricity storage from renewable energy schemes.