(Reuters) – An ongoing coup in Gabon prompted French miner Eramet , the world’s largest producer of high-grade manganese ore, to suspend mining operations in the central African nation on Wednesday.
Eramet now plans to resume operations.
Here are some facts about manganese, which is used for steelmaking:
What is manganese?
A hard, brittle and silvery white element, manganese is the fourth-most widely used metal in the world after iron, aluminum and copper. Swedish chemist Johan Gottlieb Gahn is credited as the first person to isolate it as an element in 1774.
Where is manganese found?
Most important manganese ores primarily consist of manganese dioxide in the form of pyrolusite and romanechite.
Gabon is the second-biggest manganese producer in the world and mined an estimated 4.6 million metric tons of the metal in 2022, according to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data. Gabon’s government holds nearly a third of an Eramet division that operates the country’s manganese mines.
China, Australia, Brazil and South Africa are the other major suppliers of the metal. South Africa has the largest reserves of manganese.
What is it used for?
Steelmaking accounts for about 90% of manganese consumption. The metal helps increase steel’s strength and resistance to wear.
Manganese is also a key component of some widely used aluminum alloys and, in oxide form, dry cell batteries, as per the USGS. The metal is also used in fertilizers, animal feed and colorant for bricks.
Are there any substitutes?
As per the USGS, there are no satisfactory substitutes for manganese in its major applications.
How much does it cost?
Manganese is not widely traded on an exchange but its prices are compiled by price rating agencies.