SepFluor Limited has begun work on the R1.7bn Nokeng fluorspar mine at Rust de Winter, northeast of Pretoria, with funding provided by private equity and banks.
The company, which was unbundled from Sephaku Holdings in 2012, had been planning the mine for at least seven years and originally intended to couple it with a fluorchemical plant at Ekandustria, it said. However, SepFluor had to shelve plans for the plant because of difficulties in raising funding.
SA has the biggest fluorspar (calcium fluoride) reserves in the world, according to the US Geological Survey in January 2017, but global production of fluorspar has fallen in recent years because of weak prices. Calcium fluoride is used in steel and aluminium production and to make refrigerants.
The company said its key equity funders included the African Minerals Exploration and Development (AMED) Fund II, a private-equity fund formed by South African entrepreneurs David Twist and Rudolph de Bruin; Ixofluor, which is backed by the Lelau Mohuba Trust and headed by Sephaku Holdings founder and CEO Lelau Mohuba; Traxys Projects, which is part of commodities trader Traxys Europe; and funds managed by two of AMED II’s investors, Kuramo Capital and Tribus Capital.