In 2010, Glencore Merafe PSV, our chrome operation in South Africa, opened the Tswelopele plant at our energy-intensive ferrochrome smelting complex, Rustenburg. During the second half of 2012, we completed construction of the ZAR 800 million Tswelopele smelter, designed to reduce energy use. The smelter reached full production in 2013.

The Tswelopele smelter uses the latest technology to pelletise and sinter chrome ore powder, as well as treating the ore to allow the use of more energy-efficient furnaces. Implementation has reduced Rustenburg’s annual energy demand by around 13% compared with 2011/12: a yearly saving of approximately 150,000 megawatts. 

The smelter’s advanced processes also have environmental benefits. They have contributed to a reduction in the amount of dust and slag produced and eliminated effluents. They can also use Upper Group 2 chrome ore exclusively, a type of ore that is more challenging to process successfully. And the new technology reduces the amount of ore required by 30%. 

The smelter is one part of an efficiency investment programme that we have been running for approximately 10 years. This has included investing around ZAR 6.7 billion in smelter expansions and nearly ZAR 1.6 billion on improving the efficiency of current smelters. As a result, electrical energy
efficiency has improved by more than 25% across our smelters at Rustenburg.

In 2013, the Tswelopele smelter was declared joint winner in the industrial category at Eskom’s eta Awards for exceptional, innovative and outstanding efforts in the efficient use of energy.