Our operating context

Key statistics for 2023

Chrome is a metallurgical marvel. It brings critical properties to the metals with which it is alloyed.

Global ferrochrome production increased from 15.1mt in 2022 to 15.4mt in 2023
Ferrochrome demand increased from 13.9mt in 2022 to 14.5mt in 2023
South Africa’s share of global ferrochrome production was 3.2mt (2022: 3.9mt)
China imported approximately 14.9mt chrome ore from South Africa (2022: 12.3mt)

The global position of ferrochrome

Elements influencing the global demand for and pricing of ferrochrome:

  • Global economic conditions
  • Exchange rates
  • Stainless steel demand
  • Growth of Chinese ferrochrome industry
  • Chrome ore exports

South African chrome industry

Facts

  • Approximately 3.2mt of the world’s ferrochrome production of 15.4mt was supplied by South Africa in 2023
  • Over 72% of the world’s chrome reserves are in South Africa
  • The industry provides a significant number of direct and indirect jobs in South Africa

Challenges faced by South African ferrochrome producers

  • Increasing production costs
    • electricity
    • labour
  • Socio-political challenges
  • Legislative uncertainty
  • Commodity prices and demand
  • Chrome ore exports
  • Electricity supply
  • Logistics

Ferrochrome production and its role in stainless steel

Produced by high-temperature reduction (smelting) of chromite, ferrochrome contains iron, chrome, minor amounts of carbon and silicon, and impurities such as sulphur, phosphorous and titanium.

Chrome is a metallurgical marvel. It brings critical properties to the metals with which it is alloyed.

Add it to carbon steel in the form of ferrochrome and the steel becomes "stainless" – corrosion resistant, mechanically strong, heat resistant, hard wearing and shiny. Stainless steel is used almost everywhere in modern life, from nuclear reactors to exhaust pipes, architecture, kitchenware and a host of other applications.

Specialty steels produced for applications such as tools, injection moulds, camshafts, etc. also derive the high mechanical strength, hardness and heat resistance required from their chrome content.

Our competitive advantage

Elements influencing the global demand for and pricing of ferrochrome:

  • Lowest-cost producer in South Africa
  • Flexibility provided by variety of cost-efficient technologies
  • Savings in energy consumption per tonne of alloy produced as a result of major investments in energy efficiency (Lion Complex and two pelletising and sintering plants)
  • Lion II achieves further energy efficiencies
  • Significant chrome ore reserves and access to UG2

Stainless steel production in China was 35.2 million tonnes (mt) in 2023

Global stainless steel production increased from 55.9mt in 2022 to 57.5mt in 2023
90% of the ferrochrome produced is used in stainless steel and speciality steels

Note: Changes in prior year statistics are not material and arise due to adjustments by CRU.

For more information on ferrochrome production, consumption, stainless steel production and chrome ore imports, see the CEO's strategic review and the graphs in chief executive officer's strategic review.

This source of information set out in our operating context is CRU International Limited (CRU). See chief executive officer's strategic review of this report and the note in chief executive officer's strategic review.

Stainless steel producer
The Venture