On 10 November 2008, the Xstrata-Merafe Chrome Venture (the “Venture”) announced the temporary suspension of six ferrochrome furnaces, representing 500,000 tonnes of annual capacity. The Venture reviews market conditions closely on an ongoing basis and has decided to implement further reductions in ferrochrome production to respond to short term weakness in demand. A further five furnaces have now been suspended, representing approximately 406,000 tonnes of annual ferrochrome production capacity and reducing 2008 ferrochrome production by a further 50,000 tonnes. The total suspended capacity represents 906,000 tonnes or 52% of annual operating capacity.
A total of one furnace at Boshoek, four furnaces at Rustenburg, three furnaces at Lydenburg and three furnaces at Wonderkop will remain suspended until market conditions improve. The Xstrata-Merafe Chrome Venture will continue to monitor prevailing market conditions closely. No lay-offs are anticipated for permanent employees at the furnaces, enabling the Venture to return capacity quickly and efficiently when market conditions allow.