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Analysis

Leading Manganese Supplier Surpasses Production Plans

Wed, 10/21/2015 - 09:55

Manganese is a hard, brittle, silvery metal mainly used in alloys such as steel. When added to such alloys, manganese increases their strength while improving their workability and resistance to wear and tear. Manganese steel, which is used to make railway tracks, safes, rifle barrels, and prison bars, usually contains about 13% manganese and displays extreme toughness. Moreover, typical soda cans of are made out of an aluminum alloy, containing 1.5% manganese, to improve resistance to corrosion. Manganese (IV) oxide can be used as a catalyst or a rubber additive, while manganese sulfate is used to make a fungicide. Manganese (II) oxide, on the other hand, is used to make fertilizers and ceramics. Many types of enzymes contain this element, making it essential for organisms. Without manganese, water molecules could not be converted into oxygen during photosynthesis and bones would grow spongier and break more easily. This is also why it has become an essential food supplement for grazing animals and is indispensable in our daily diets. Manganese is the fifth most abundant metal in the earth’s crust. The most concentrated manganese deposits are found in the ocean floor as manganese nodules, though the element is mined all over the world, mainly in China, Africa, Australia, and Gabon. In 2013, Mexico occupied 10th place in global manganese production, accounting for 1.18% of the total manganese produced worldwide. In the first ten months of 2014, the country produced 192,144 tonnes of manganese, already surpassing the total mined in the entirety of 2012. Most of the manganese production in Mexico comes from the Molango deposits in Hidalgo which were discovered in 1960 and first put into production by the leading manganese producing company in the country: Minera Autlan. The company was formed as part of Grupo FerroMinero (GFM) in 1953 and is specialized in the production and commercialization of a variety of manganese minerals and ferroalloys. It began operations in the municipality of Autlan in Hidalgo and sees its core markets as being the iron and steel, dry battery, ceramic, animal micronutrients, and fertilizer markets. Minera Autlan operates three mining divisions, three ferroalloy-producing plants, and owns a port for its import and export operations. While the company’s headquarters are in San Pedro Garza García, Nuevo Leon, it also supports its clients through its office in Mexico City and its warehouse in Monterrey.

Minera Autlan’s current strategy is based on a five year business plan which includes projects related to manganese and its derivatives, energy, and other products it currently commercializes. Moreover, Minera Autlan is the only company in the world that produces manganese nodules, setting a production record of 464,000 tonnes of manganese nodules in 2013 despite the natural gas deficit in Mexico and the occurrence of Hurricane Ingrid. Recently, the company has invested in robotic equipment and in wet shotcrete transportation technology to increase the productivity of its Molango underground mine. In its Nonoalco and Naopa units, Minera Autlan exceeded its production plans for 2013. Its Naopa unit also surpassed expectations in terms of manganese carbonate production and was able to move 10.6 million tonnes of topsoil to expand the production at this unit. At its Tamós plant, Minera Autlan built a new crucible for its tenth oven with freeze lining technology to help improve productivity, following on from its Teziutlán and Gómez Palacio plants both breaking their production records that year.