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Geology & Resources

Tshipi is a shallow open-cast mine located on a large and homogenous ore body which is located in the Southern portion of the Kalahari manganese field (KMF), the largest manganese bearing geological formation in the world.

Tshipi began production in 2012 and in the 2019 financial year produced and sold 3.45Mt and 3.51Mt respectively. It is currently operating at a production run-rate of approximately 3.3Mtpa which is estimated to make it the largest single manganese mine in South Africa and one of the five largest manganese exporters globally.

Tshipi produces lumpy and fines manganese ore product with average grades of around 36.5% and 35.5% respectively.

Tshipi's large, shallow resource base provides operational, safety and cost benefits, with the contractor-operator model enabling Tshipi é Ntle to become one of the lowest cost manganese exporters globally whilst its infrastructure allows it to scale production between 3.0 and 3.6 million tonnes per year in response to market conditions, enabling it to deliver strong cash margins.

The table below sets out the historical production and sales for Tshipi (100% basis).

  FY2015 FY2016 FY2017 FY2018 FY2019
Total sales (Mt) 2.11 1.54 2.27 3.34 3.51
Total production 2.43 1.39 2.33 3.64 3.45

Production History

Tshipi é Ntle shipped its first manganese ore within 13 months of breaking ground at the Tshipi Mine. The first ore was mined in October 2012 and a ramp-up period followed until February 2014. Steady-state production began in March 2014.

Tshipi é Ntle produced 2.43 million tonnes in FY2015, 1.39 million tonnes in FY2016, and 2.33 million tonnes in FY2017. Production was suspended from November 2015 to February 2016 in response to depressed market conditions at the time, during which time Tshipi completed processing plant upgrades and sold existing stockpiles. Tshipi é Ntle can swiftly react to changes in the manganese price and prevailing market conditions, scaling back operations when prices are low, such as was experienced in the 2016 financial year, and ramping up operations when prices recover, as occurred during the latter half of the 2017 financial year.

The following Company production profile reflects the steady increase in production over the 2018 financial year to a run-rate of 3.3 million tonnes per year:

Production profile (‘000 t)

Tshipi Mine is currently producing at a run-rate of 3.3 million tonnes per year. Tshipi é Ntle expects to maintain production at that level if the pricing environment remains robust.

Transport & Logistics

Tshipi é Ntle's flexible and scalable logistics operations allow it to swiftly adapt export quantities to market conditions. Tshipi é Ntle uses a combination of rail and road transport to transport processed manganese ore from the mine to four ports: the Port of Saldanha and the Port of Cape Town to the southwest, Port Elizabeth to the south, and the Port of Durban to the southeast.

Tshipi é Ntle constructed an eight kilometre private rail siding loop connecting the Transnet Freight Rail regional railway to the Tshipi Mine's rapid load terminal (RLT). The RLT is able to fill a complete train within approximately four to six hours, which compares positively to the 12 hours in standard Transnet contract terms. The RLT is capable of loading 5 million tonnes of product per year.

In FY2018, Tshipi transported 68% of its product volumes by train and 32% by road, as compared to 86% by train and 14% by road in FY2017.

Sales & Marketing

Manganese is a critical and irreplaceable element in carbon steel production and is mainly used as an alloying agent that increases both the strength and flexibility of steel.

Amongst its listed competitors, Tshipi é Ntle is the only manganese producer which provides 100% exposure to manganese mining, allowing Tshipi é Ntle to maximise profitability during a market upturn, whilst its operating structure allows it to predominately remain cash flow positive throughout the manganese price cycle.

There are numerous customers for Tshipi é Ntle's manganese ore, situated mainly in Asia. Tshipi é Ntle supplies the product to its customers in similar volumes and without any substantial customer concentration.

Tshipi é Ntle has offtake arrangements in place with its two shareholders whereby Jupiter buys and exports its 49.9% share of Tshipi ore and Ntsimbtintle buys and exports its 50.1% share.

For current and historical manganese prices, please click here

Tshipi in Action

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