Eramet SA will restart production at its manganese mining operations in Gabon on Thursday, ending a temporary halt in the wake of the military coup in the country.
(Bloomberg) — Eramet SA will restart production at its manganese mining operations in Gabon on Thursday, ending a temporary halt in the wake of the military coup in the country.
The Paris-based miner said late Wednesday it has decided to resume mining operations in after monitoring events in the country, after announcing earlier in the day that it would halt activity as a precautionary measure. Shares of Eramet, which has been expanding its key Moanda mine, slumped as much as 22% in Paris.
While Gabon is better known as an oil producer, Eramet has been investing heavily in expanding manganese output in recent years. That’s helped the former French colony become the world’s number-two supplier of the metal, which is a key ingredient in steelmaking and is finding growing usage in electric-vehicle batteries.
Manganese is one of the world’s most abundant mined elements, but production is concentrated in a handful of countries including South Africa, Gabon, Australia and China. Eramet said last month that the global market was in a slight surplus in the first half of the year, but there are growing concerns about supply risks surrounding high-purity forms of the metal that are needed by battery-makers.
Earlier this year, the European Commission proposed designating battery-grade manganese as a strategic raw material, alongside other metals like copper and nickel that play a key role in the energy transition.
Gabon’s manganese assets are a major source of revenue and employment for the state. Eramet paid more than €132 million ($144 million) in taxes and dividends in 2022 and spent more than €407 million on local purchases and subcontracting. The company directly employed 8,767 people, it said in a report in June.
Eramet said it will continue to monitor the situation in Gabon closely. It also said it will immediately restart rail transport activity, while passenger train movements will remain suspended.
(Updates throughout to reflect resumption of mining activity)
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