Johannesburg- The biggest chrome miner in the world, South African-based Samancor Chrome, has crushed black-owned chrome companies in activities that are against competition laws in South Africa.
After some ownership changes, Samancor now belongs to a Chinese Consortium which includes Sino Steel, Min Metals and China National Investment Corporation, all three being multibillion-dollar enterprises.
With its head office in Sandton, the powerhouse changed hands in South Africa with no regulatory approval in a transaction running into billions of rand, crushing all other competitors.
Soon after Samancor changed ownership in 2019, two companies were appointed to be the agents for Samancor, selling their chrome worldwide.
While Samancor previously sold chrome to some European countries, Turkey, India, China, South Korea and Japan, the new owners sell almost exclusively to the Chinese market, shutting out other companies from doing business with the Asian giant.
Like other commodities, the international trading price of chrome is pegged at about $195 a ton but Samancor sells chrome at $75 a ton at a fixed price and pre-agreed period of three years, killing the competition.
The Star can reveal that the two companies buying Samancor-produced chrome at $75 a ton – while the pegged international price is $195 a ton – are Majestic Rock, based in Singapore, and Ore Alloy Development Corporation, based in China.
Further investigations have revealed strong links with Global King Ventures, a company that was implicated in a massive arms trafficking seizure as part of a complex group of holding companies in Thailand.
In the past, Thai authorities seized an aircraft at Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok that was carrying 35 tons of North Korean arms destined for Iran.
The plane was chartered by a company with clear links to Global King Ventures.
A closer look at Hong Kong-based Ore Alloy Development Corporation raises concerns over their credibility and credentials.
It belongs to two individuals, Zhai Suping and Guo Guangning, who have had assets of RMB 650 million frozen in China.
Guangning resigned as a director in 2018, shortly before his assets were frozen.
Later that year, he had another RMB 49.5 million frozen by a Shanghai court.
A few months after RMB 240m of Guangning’s assets were frozen in Shanxi Province in China, the new Samancor owners awarded his company a contract where he would buy millions of tons of chrome ore worth $195 a ton for $75 a ton.
The Star has posed questions to Samancor and its board. Our investigative team asked them to explain the agreements and whether this was approved by the Samancor board.
Samancor admitted that transactions were concluded between the parties but said that the source is selectively using information to distort it for its “own agendas”.
The chief executive of Samancor, Desmond McManus, sought an audience with The Star to discuss the questions posed.
We made it clear that the questions needed to be answered and that a meeting may well be superfluous after the answers were considered.
The Star sent an email to Zhengyi Lyu, a director of Samancor, seeking his and other board members’ comments on the allegations but our questions were not answered.