SepFluor, which was unbundled from Sephaku Holdings in 2012, has been planning the mine for at least seven years and originally intended to couple it with a fluorchemical plant at Ekandustria, but had to shelf plans for the plant because of difficulties in raising funding.

South Africa has the biggest fluorspar reserves in the world, according to the US Geological Survey in January 2017, but global production of fluorspar has fallen in recent years because of weak prices. Calcium fluoride is used in steel and aluminium production and to make refrigerants.

The company said its key equity funders included the African Minerals Exploration and Development (AMED) Fund II, a private equity fund formed by SA entrepreneurs David Twist and Rudolph de Bruin; Ixofluor which is backed by the Lelau Mohuba Trust and headed by Sephaku Holdings founder and CEO Dr Lelau Mohuba; Traxys Projects, which is part of commodities trader Traxys Europe; and funds managed by two of Amed II’s investors, Kuramo Capital and Tribus Capital.