Officials at U.K.-headquartered Consolidated Minerals Ltd. (Consmin), a leading manganese ore producer, have reported a 6% decline in manganese ore production for Q4 2012, offset by a 40% increase in chromite ore volume.

Company representatives sounded optimistic. “Consmin has produced a solid operational performance in the year,” said CFO Jackie Callaway.

Overall, manganese C1 cash costs have fallen a further 9% from 2011, despite a Q4 increase in CI cash costs stemming from a Ghana stripping program; 2013’s C1 cash costs are expected to keep falling from 2012 levels, according to company officials.

Company officials added that 2012 was a challenging year from a market perspective. But they also voiced optimism from alloy tender prices sparked by 2013’s government transition in China leading to increased demand for manganese ore.

To this end, Consmin signed a long-term sale offtake agreement with China’s leading EMM producer, following 18 months of negotiations. Other contract pricing will be tied to benchmark manganese prices, accounting for the majority of Ghana production.  

Total Australian resources have increased 22% with reserves increasing 8% over the June 2011 resources and reserves statement. Total Ghanaian resources increased 9%, the company noted, and reserves fell 11% compared with June 2011’s resources and reserves statement.

The Jersey-headquartered Consolidated Minerals is a leading manganese ore producer with operations in Australia and Ghana encompassing exploration, mining, and processing activities with the sale of manganese products through the four subsidiaries.