Australia-based South32 is considering reducing the value of its 60% stake in the South African Samancor Manganese joint venture (JV), amid closures of furnaces due to weak prices for the steelmaking material.

A global metals and mining company subsidiary BHP Billiton, South32 said that the JV postponed plans to restart three of the four high-carbon ferromanganese (HCFeMn) furnaces at its South African Metalloys manganese alloy operation.

The decision was prompted due to a 20% fall in HCFeMn alloy prices since the beginning of the year. The action is linked with the company’s proposal to boost per share financial performance, but will not have any impact on permanent employees.

"The decision was prompted due to a 20% fall in HCFeMn alloy prices since the beginning of the year."

The JV is coordinating with South African logistics operator Transnet to gain access to the necessary rail and port capacity required to export additional manganese ore from its Hotazel mining operations.

South32 is also in the process of reviewing the fair value of its interest in the Samancor Manganese JV.

The Australian operations of the JV include Gemco, an open-cut manganese mine in the Northern Territory, and Temco, a manganese alloy plant in Tasmania.

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The JV’s African operations include the Hotazel Manganese Mines in the Kalahari Basin in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province and Metalloys, a smelter integrated with the Hotazel Manganese Mines.