She said the mine employed over 700 miners, “all of whom are Lanxess employees, as we recently stopped using labour brokers”. Labour broking is common in the industry, and is a point of contention.

She said Lanxess had concluded a new wage agreement, effective from July 1. The agreement was at 7.25% increment.

Asked whether Lanxess held enough stocks to supply international demand in the event of industrial action, she said:

“Lanxess is by international ferrochrome standards a small supplier – the ferrochrome market of course being the largest consumer of chrome ore, and a market we can’t ignore in our process to supply our own requirements of chemical grade ore. In the event of a strike shutting down operations completely, our stocks would be depleted within days, assuming that we could move it off the mine.

“If the question is instead directed towards our ability to supply chrome ore to our chemical operations, the situation is very different. We hold enough stock in the chemical pipeline to keep chrome sulphate operations running for at least 6 weeks, even if the gates to the mine were shut without warning.”

On Lanxess’ share of the chrome tanning salts market, she said:

“If we take our own downstream chemical production capacity and our supply of chrome ore to non-integrated chemical producers, approximately 25% of the world’s chrome tanning salts would have had their chrome ore origin in our mine.”

Source: Shoes & Views, South Africa