Manganese Alloys


Manganese is the twelfth most abundant metal found within the Earth's crust and derives its name from the Latin word Magnes which means Magnet. It is the fourth most used metal in terms of quantity behind iron, aluminium and copper. It was first used in the steel industry in Ancient Greece, the presence of manganese in the iron ore is most likely the reason that the weapons made by the Spartans were superior to their enemies. It was first isolated and recognised as an element in 1771 by a Swedish chemist called Scheele.


Approximately 90% of all manganese consumed worldwide goes into the steel industry as an alloying element, and because of its relatively low price and technical benefits it has no real substitute. Apart from its uses in industry, trace amounts of manganese are very important to good health. It makes bones strong but flexible and it aids the body in absorbing Vitamin B12. It also acts as an important activator for the body to use enzymes. Manganese also has important uses in aluminium as an alloying element. It is a versatile addition to copper alloys and its largest non-metal application is in the form of portable dry batteries. It also has chemical applications and is used as a ceramic and brick colourant.


Widespread use of manganese in steel making began in the UK and France at the beginning of the 19th Century. At the time it was noted that manganese increased the hardness of iron without a reduction in its malleability or toughness. In modern steelmaking manganese is added in the form of manganese alloys because of its sulphur fixing, deoxidising and alloying properties. Nearly all steels contain some manganese, in proportions that vary from 0.05% to as high as 12%. There are numerous grades of steel each requiring a different amount of manganese. The average consumption of manganese is approximately 7-10kgs of manganese per ton of steel.


Production of manganese ferro alloys is dominated by China, accounting for nearly half of worldwide production from a combination of domestic low grade manganese ores and imported high grade ores. Total worldwide production of manganese alloys peaked in 2008 at approximately 15 million tons, mostly as Silico Manganese and Ferro Manganese, with a number of higher grade alloys produced in lower volumes making up the difference. The various grades offered by Westbrook Resources Ltd are listed in the navigation to the left.