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Future of South Africa chrome mine unclear after Lanxess deal

Leather chemicals company Lanxess has confirmed that the proposed sale of its chrome chemicals business to Chinese manufacturer Brother Enterprises does not include the chrome mine it owns and runs in Rustenburg in South Africa.

Brother Enterprises will take over the Lanxess factory in the South African city of Newcastle as part of the proposed deal, which is subject to approval by the regulatory authorities. The Newcastle facility employs 220 people and makes sodium dichromate from chrome ore mined in Rustenburg.

Until 2024 at least, Lanxess will keep ownership of another factory in South Africa, located at Merebank, saying it will continue to make chrome tanning salts there under contract to Brother Enterprises.

However, in the formal announcement about the deal, which Lanxess made on August 12, it said nothing about Rustenburg. In response to a question about the future of the mine from leatherbiz, Lanxess said: “The chrome ore mine in Rustenburg is not part of the transaction with Brother Enterprises. We are considering strategic options for the mine at the moment.”

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