Manganese miner Kalagadi Resources’ chairwoman, Daphne Mashile-Nkosi, has hit out at the Democratic Alliance (DA) opposition party for urging an official investigation into state investments in Kalagadi.

DA shadow deputy minister of finance David Ross said on February 16 that his party had lodged a request for South Africa’s Public Protector to mount an investigation into “the use of pensioners’ money to bankroll worrisome investments”. He referred to reports that Public Investment Corp (PIC) had been in talks with Kalagadi to take up ArcelorMittal’s 50% stake in the manganese project.

Ross alleged in his statement of February 16 that PIC has made “a string of controversial investment decisions...including the purchase of a potentially overpriced share of the Kalagadi Manganese mining company from ANC-connected [African National Congress] bigwig Daphne Mashile-Nkosi for ZAR3.9 billion [$352 million] just a few days ago”.

However, Mashile-Nkosi denied that Kalagadi has reached a deal with PIC.

“Contrary to what has been communicated, Kalagadi is still, to date, awaiting a decision by the PIC on its application for funds to buy ArcelorMittal’s 50% stake in the project,” Mashile-Nkosi said in a statement on February 19.

“The company [Kalagadi] has rejected the report by the DA as inaccurate, misleading and misinformed.”

She took strong exception to the insinuation that the company and herself have benefitted from the PIC investment due to her alleged political affiliation, as well as to the DA misleading the public about her business track record, character and stature, she stated.

At the Mining Indaba in Cape Town in February, Mashile-Nkosi, accompanied by minister of mineral resources Susan Shabangu, unveiled a ZAR2.2 billion loan agreement from the African Development Bank to help finance the R7 billion Kalagadi project.

The manganese mine and sinter plant, near the town of Hotazel, in the Northern Cape, have been commissioned, and Kalagadi will shortly start building a 320,000-tpy ferro-manganese smelter at the port of Coega in South Africa's Eastern Cape province.

During her Indaba press conference, Mashile-Nkosi indicated that Kalagadi was in discussions with PIC about the possibility of it buying ArcelorMittal’s stake in Kalagadi, after the steelmaker pulled out of the project last year.