By Zandi Shabalala
LONDON (Reuters) – Glencore’s <GLEN.L> chrome joint venture in South Africa with Merafe Resources <MRFJ.J> has declared force majeure on qualifying contracts after a nationwide lockdown forced operations to shut, a Merafe executive said.
“All our operations are shut and are on care and maintenance. We have declared force majeure on qualifying contracts” Merafe financial director Ditabe Chocho told Reuters.
Glencore declined to comment.
South Africa, which has called a three-week lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus, is the world’s biggest producer of chrome ore, an essential ingredient in stainless steel. Last year the country supplied 83% of China’s imports.
The Swiss-based Glencore owns 79.5% of the Glencore-Merafe Chrome Venture, which has a total capacity of 2.3 million tonnes of ferrochrome per annum.
Other South African chrome operators including Samancor Chrome and Tharisa have also declared forced majeure on contracts.
(Additional reporting by Helen Reid in Johannesburg, editing by Louise Heavens)