5 Vanadium Projects to Watch in South Africa

Vanadium, a metal widely utilized as an alloying element in steel, serving as a vital component in the construction, transportation, and manufacturing sectors, is experiencing a notable upswing in investment. Currently, China holds a dominant position in the market, accounting for 73% of co-production, where vanadium is extracted from iron-ore processed for steel manufacturing. However, it is worth noting that South Africa, along with Brazil, stands as a significant producer of primary vanadium production, comprising approximately 17% of the market share.
As the demand for batteries and alternative energy sources rises, South African vanadium production is expected to increase further as new mines are commissioned.
Vametco Vanadium Project
Spearheaded by London-based mineral company Bushveld Minerals, the Vametco Vanadium project is an integrated mining and processing plant located in South Africa’s Northwest region. Representing one of the biggest primary production facilities in the world, the project comprises an open-pit mine which supplies ore to a vanadium plant. Resources are measured at 182.7 million tons and recoverable reserves estimated at 45.3 million tons while the life-of-mine stands at more than 30 years.
Bushveld Minerals is looking at expanding the project from its current capacity of 5,000 tons per year to 8,000 tons per year, with the completed prefeasibility and feasibility studies determining that a four-stage expansion is necessary. When required, additional ore will be sourced from Bushveld Minerals’ Mokopane and Brits projects.
Mokopane Vanadium Project
Located in South Africa’s Limpopo province, the Mokopane Vanadium mine represents one of the world’s largest primary vanadium resources, with resources measured at 298 million tons. The mine is also run by Bushveld Minerals, with 28.56 million tons deemed mineable, supporting a minimum 30-year life-of-mine.
To date, the mine is still under development, with a mining right granted by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy in 2016.
Brits Vanadium Project
Bushveld Minerals third vanadium development is the Brits project, with resources estimated at 66.8 million tons. The mine is considered a continuation of the Vametco strike and includes a prospecting rights and mining right under application on farms adjacent to Vametco. With Brits, the Vametco’s life-of-mine has the potential to be expanded with cost-effective ore supplying the processing plant.
Rhovan Mine
The Rhovan mine is an opencast mine and smelter complex operated by Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining company Glencore. Located northwest of the Bushveld Minerals-operated Brits mine, the Rhovan mine’s primary product are Ferrovanadium and vanadium pentoxide. Operations first commenced in 1989, with the concentrating process starting in 1994.
Steelpoortdrift Vanadium Project
The Steelpoortdrift Vanadium Project – located in the prolific Bushveld Geological Complex in South Africa’s Limpopo province – is spearheaded by Australian-listed Vanadium Resources. Considered to be one of the largest deposits in the world with a mining authorization, the project has a mineral resource estimated at 612 million tons. A feasibility study completed in 2022 determined that the mine could produce 484,000 tons of V2O5 over a 25-year life-of-mine. To date, Vanadium Resources is working towards a Final Investment Decision, commencing FEED studies and securing debt financing.
The global energy transition is causing a surge in demand for critical minerals, and vanadium is not exempt in this regard. While South Africa is making progress to maximize its resources, neighboring countries such as Botswana, Namibia and others stand to play a much larger role in global supply chains. During the Critical Minerals Africa summit – taking place in Cape Town from October 17-18 – potential investors and project developers will be connected with vanadium-rich countries in southern Africa.