Gabon: Eramet Expands Production in the World’s Largest Manganese Mine

3 Min Read

Manganese, a key metal in the energy transition, notably used in electric vehicle batteries, has seen a surge in production in Gabon, making it the world’s second-largest producer, trailing only behind South Africa. French company Eramet, in collaboration with the Gabonese government, operates the world’s largest manganese mine in Moanda, and it announced on November 12 that it plans to extract 20% more metal by 2026.

From an aerial view, the Moanda mine, situated amidst lush greenery, resembles a vast expanse of black. Operated by Eramet’s subsidiary, Comilog, in which the Gabonese government is also a shareholder, the mine’s production has nearly doubled in four years and is projected to increase by approximately 20% by 2026, reaching eight and a half million tons annually.

To achieve this, the mine needed expansion and significant investments were made in the Transgabonais, the country’s sole railway line. Christel Bories, Eramet’s CEO, explained, “We also manage the train that transports the ore from the mine, located near the Congo border, to the sea. It also carries passengers and freight. We have invested heavily and more than doubled its capacity over the last four years. However, we must continue to invest significantly.”

While Eramet did not disclose the precise amount of the completed or forthcoming work, Bories stated, “It’s a track that wasn’t built to transport ore before. It now transports ours and that of our competitors. We have investments that are still significant over the next few years, talking about several hundred million euros.”

The mining sector represents 30% of Gabon’s exports. Aloys d’Harambure, Executive Director of the International Manganese Institute, noted that the increase in Gabon’s manganese production is partly due to the growing global demand for manganese, especially for electric vehicle batteries. Additionally, in a period when energy is expensive worldwide, there is an advantage for manganese ore users to have high-grade ore, reducing electricity consumption. Manganese with high-grade content, sought after for making stronger steel, is abundant in Gabon.

The mining industry now constitutes nearly 30% of Gabon’s exports, second only to oil. Following the August coup against Ali Bongo, a local NGO is urging a reconsideration of the distribution of mining wealth to benefit the population more. Its director hopes for progress on this front during the national dialogue promised by the transitional president, Brice Oligui Nguema, starting in April next year.

Share this Article
Leave a comment