It doesn’t look like Richards Bay Alloys will open its two-furnace, 150,000 mtpy charge chrome smelter anytime soon. When the plant closed at the beginning of September it said the shutdown would be for three months and the closure would be used to install a new technology to reduce costs by a minimum of 25%.
In September, before the benchmark price was increased to $1.39 in the fourth quarter, Richards Bay said market related factors could hasten the reopening of the plant, or at least one furnace. However, after the benchmark was announced the price has steadily deteriorated and prospects for 2018 don’t look good (in fact terrible). Insiders said the new technology was never installed and the long-term view of the plant isn’t positive, especially with Eskom lobbying for a 19% increase in power prices next fiscal year.
However, all is not lost, Traxys, the owner of Richards Bay, is ahead of the game by selling the ore.