Project Title: Resource Intensity Trends of the South African Ferrochrome Industry
Supervisors: Prof Harro Von Blottnitz
South Africa owns about 70% of the world’s chromium reserves (Chamber of Mines of South Africa , 2016). Chromium ore is used to manufacture ferrochrome; a raw material in stainless steel production. Demand is expected to increase with the development of emerging markets (World Steel Association, 2016).
South Africa’s mineral beneficiation strategy incorporates sustainable development as a framework to promote a competitive mineral beneficiation industry (DMR, 2011). This study aims to investigate trends in the intensity of use of key resources in the South African ferrochrome industry. Resource intensity can be defined as the measure of input needed to produce a unit of output (CEECEC, 2010).
This investigation was carried out through data mining. Where gaps in the data were found, mass-balance based modelling was applied. Expert interviews were conducted to verify the results of the data mining and also to gain insights on the key drivers of the resource intensity trends compiled. Overall South African ferrochrome production was found to be increasing however the number of producers were decreasing due to market conditions. 10-Year data were found to be publically available for one major producer in its annual reports, whilst for two other producers only partially complete data sets could be assembled.
Mineral ore intensity has reduced with the introduction of industrial symbiosis between the South African PGM industry and the ferrochrome industry. Electricity consumption intensity has also decreased significantly however not as much as expected. Water intensity could not be confirmed due to inconsistency in data. Expert interviews corroborated the results obtained. Projects to improve resource intensity were being implemented and were mostly motivated by economic factors and legislative compliance. It is concluded that there have been some measurable reductions in resource use intensity, due to a combination of industrial ecology symbiosis and new technology.
CEECEC, 2010. The Civil Society Engagement with Ecological Economics Glossary: Ecological Economics from the Bottom-Up, European Union 7th framework programme, 2010. [Online] Available at: http://base.socioeco.org/docs/the-ceecec-glossary.pdf [Accessed 14 February 2019].
Chamber of Mines of South Africa , 2016. Facts and Figures 2016, s.l.: Chamber of Mines of South Africa.
DMR, 2011. A beneficiation stratergy for the minerals industry of South Africa, s.l.: Department of Mineral Reources, Republic of South Africa South Africa.
World Steel Association, 2016. World Steel Outlook 2016/2017, s.l.: World Steel Association.