Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

SepFluor has begun work on the R1.7bn Nokeng fluorspar mine at Rust de Winter, northeast of Pretoria, with funding provided by private equity and banks, it said on Monday.

SepFluor, which was unbundled from Sephaku Holdings in 2012, has been planning the mine for at least seven years and originally intended to couple it with a fluorchemical plant at Ekandustria. It had to shelve plans for the plant because of difficulties in raising funding.

SA has the biggest fluorspar reserves in the world, according to the US Geological Survey in January 2017, but global production has fallen because of weak prices. Calcium fluoride is used in steel and aluminium production and to make refrigerants.

The company said construction of the mine should be completed within 21 months for first production in early 2019. It is targeting output of 180,000 tonnes a year of acid-grade fluorspar and 30,000 tonnes a year of metallurgical grade. A long-term deal has been concluded with Traxys to market and distribute the product.

About 300 jobs will be created during construction and 200 during operations.

Nokeng’s key equity funders include the African Minerals Exploration and Development Fund II, a private equity fund formed by entrepreneurs David Twist and Rudolph de Bruin; Ixofluor, which is backed by the Lelau Mohuba Trust and headed by Sephaku Holdings founder and CEO Lelau Mohuba; Traxys Projects, which is part of commodities trader Traxys Europe; and funds managed by two of African Minerals Exploration and Development Fund II’s investors, Kuramo Capital and Tribus Capital.

The financing will come from a consortium of three primary lenders: Nedbank, Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij Voor Ontwikkelingslanden and Deutsche Investitions Und Entwicklungsgesellschaft.

The Department of Trade and Industry has approved an infrastructure grant of R21m.

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