Leadership Team

Samancor Chrome's leaders are dynamic and visionary. Discover a little more about them:

Chief Executive Officer+ -
Desmond McManus

Desmond holds a Bachelor in Engineering (Extractive Metallurgy), as well as an MBL (Masters in Business Leadership) Degree from UNISA. His past working experience includes being a Production Superintendent as Assmang Manganese's Cato Ridge Works, before joining Samancor Chrome as a Production Superintendent at Tubatse Ferrochrome in 2002. In 2005, he was promoted to the position of Operations Manager of Tubatse Ferrochrome. In 2008, he was promoted to General Manager of Tubatse Ferrochrome. Desmond was promoted to COO of Samancor Chrome on 1 January 2013. He has been in his current position since 1 July 2019.

Chief Financial Officer+ -
Wessel Erasmus

Wessel is a qualified chartered accountant who started his career as an Article Clerk at Deloitte Haskins and Sells (now Deloitte) in the Johannesburg office from where he was recruited into Samancor during the latter part of 1995. During the period he has taken on several leading roles and responsibilities, including the positions as Divisional Financial Manager of Chrome in 1998 and later as the Finance Manager for Samancor Chrome in 2001. During his tenure in Chrome he has been a key member of the teams involved in the setting up the chrome joint ventures, the de-listing of Samancor Limited from the local stock exchange and subsequent restructure of Samancor Limited into the Chrome and Manganese operating divisions, as well as working with the team responsible for listing Billiton on the LSE. Wessel was also involved with the split of Samancor Limited into two separate legal entities and the sale of the Chrome assets. He has been in his current position since 2006.

COO: Mining+ -
Willem de Villiers

Willem has more than 20 years’ experience in the mining and pyro-metallurgical industries and holds a Bachelor degree in Engineering (Extractive Metallurgy). He started his career at Samancor Manganese and held various operational positions in Samancor Chrome and later in Xstrata Alloys. He was appointed as COO at Tata Steel in 2006, and subsequently held executive positions at Tharisa PLC and Portnex International before joining Samancor Chrome in March 2020.

COO: Smelting+ -
Steph van Sittert

Steph holds a Bachelor in Engineering, as well as an MBL (Masters in Business Leadership) degree from UNISA. He holds a Government Certificate of Competency for Factories and is registered as a Professional Engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa. His 20 years working experience includes senior management roles in the power generation and ferroalloy industry ranging from operational to project and business development responsibilities. Steph joined Samancor Chrome as the Head of Business Development and Technology in January 2014 and has been in his current position since February 2020.

Head of SHEQ+ -
John Botha

John holds a B-Tech Degree in Safety Management and started his career as an Artisan at Anglo American in 1978 after which he joined the safety fraternity in 1988. He joined AVGOLD in 1999 as part of the project's SHEQ team at Target Division until the initiation of production in 2001. He spent two years at the Pechiney ALCAN Silicon Smelter's SHEQ Department in Polokwane after which he joined Samancor Chrome's Tubatse Ferrochrome operation as the SHEQ Manager. John was promoted to his current position in 2007.

Head of Corporate Affairs and Transformation+ -
Archie Palane

Archie joined NUM in February1986 and in June 1995 he was elected General Secretary of the Southern African Miners Federation to coordinate mining unions across Southern Africa. In 1998 he was elected Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), a position that he held from June 1998 till 2006. Before joining Samancor Chrome, he was the Executive Chairman at the Siyakhula Sonke Empowerment Corporation (SSC), and a director of Redpath and Sekgwa Mining Services. Archie joined Samancor Chrome in December 2007 as Group Transformation Manager and was later appointed as the Head of Corporate Affairs and Transformation - the position he is currently holding.

Head of Human Capital and Development+ -
Leandra van der Merwe

Leandra holds an Honours Degree in Psychology (UJ), an Honours Degree in Industrial Psychology (NWU), as well as an advanced certificate in Industrial Relations. Her past working experience includes being an Employee Relations Manager at Ingwe Koornfontein Mine before joining Samancor Chrome as an HR Superintendent at Middelburg Ferrochrome in 2003. In 2005, she was promoted to the position of HR Manager of Middelburg Ferrochrome. Leandra took up the position of Group Manager: Training and Development in August 2010, and was appointed as the Head of Human Capital and Development in January 2015.

Head of Logistics, Procurement and Business Development+ -
Liu Dong

Liu Dong holds a PhD in Management Science and Engineering, as well as a M.Sc. degree in Business Administration and a B.Sc. degree in International Economics and Trade. He has also held various executive positions in Samancor Chrome’s joint ventures. Liu Dong has been in his current position since February 2020.

General Manager: Dikwena Chrome+ -
Callie Pienaar

Callie holds an M.Eng Degree in Metallurgy and a MBL. He previously worked at Samancor Chrome Ferrometals from 2000 – 2004 - as a Plant Manager and later on as the Operations Manager: Furnaces. Before he joined us, he was the Group Operations Executive at Chrome Traders in Rustenburg - a position he has held since 2017. He also gained valuable experience in various roles throughout the ferrochrome industry, such as a Director for Marlinec, General Manager and Acting COO for Mogale Alloys, as well as several positions held at Palmiet Ferrochrome and Iscor. Callie joined Samancor Chrome in October 2019 and has been in his current position since February 2020.

General Manager, Western Chrome Mines + -
Francois van Heerden

Francois started his career at Kloof Gold Mine as a Learner Miner in 1994 and was ultimately promoted the Unit Manager. He has also gained valuable experience as the Head of Mining at South Deep, a Mining Leader at Two Rivers Platinum Mine, Mine Manager at Lonmin Platinum and Mine Overseer at Anglo Platinum. Before he joined Western Chrome Mines, he was the Operations Manager at Sibanye Gold. Francois was appointed as the Mine Manager at Western Chrome Mines in September 2019 and subsequently promoted to the Mining Manager in May 2019. He has been in his current position since December 2019.

General Manager, Eastern Chrome Mines+ -
Bertus Brink

Bertus has more than 26 years’ experience in the mining industry and completed his practical training at Samancor Montrose and Tweefontein Mines from 1990 – 1991, after which he furthered his career in Mining Engineering at Anglo American Corporation in the roles of Mine Overseer, Section Manager and Production Manager. He joined Samancor Chrome as a Mine Manager at ECM’s Tweefontein Mine in 2009 and was promoted to Mining Manager in 2012. He has been in his current position since July 2017. He holds a National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, a Degree and National Higher Diploma in Metalliferous Mining, as well as a Mine Manager’s Certificate of Competency, a MDP and EDP.

General Manager, Ferrometals and Ferroveld+ -
Ellie Wheal

Ellie holds a degree in Chemical Engineering and has a strong production background. Her past working experience includes being a Raw Materials Superintendent at Assmang Chrome Machadodorp Works, as well as a Production Superintendent at Assmang Manganese Cato Ridge Works. In 2007, Ellie moved to ASA Metals/Dilokong Chrome Mine to take up the position of Services and Logistics Manager, after which she later became Production Manager: Smelter Operation, followed by Director: Maroga Metal Recovery. Before she joined us, she was the General Manager: Smelter Operation – a position she has held since December 2012. Ellie has been in her current position since 1 March 2014.

General Manager, TC Smelter+ -
Sizwe Siyila

Sizwe has vast experience in the chrome and manganese mining and smelting/processing, as well as coke manufacturing environments. He gained valuable experience as a Senior Metallurgist and Projects Superintendent at Assmang Chrome and a Process Engineer at BHP Billiton’s Metalloys Works. Sizwe joined Samancor Chrome as the Group Procurement Superintendent at Group Procurement Services in September 2016, and was appointed as the Logistics Manager at TC Smelter in March 2018. He has been in his current position from December 2019.

General Manager, Middelburg Ferrochrome+ -
Willie Botha

Willie holds a degree in Chemical Engineering. His past working experience includes being a General Manager of Xstrata Alloys in eMalahleni, before moving to Xstrata Lydenburg plant to take up the position of Works Manager, after which he was later promoted to General Works Manager. Willie has been in his current position since 1 April 2011.

General Manager, Tubatse Ferrochrome+ -
Johan Kleynhans

Johan holds a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering, specialising in Mineral Processing. He started his career as a Graduate Metallurgist/Process Engineer at Anglo Platinum's Precious Metals Refiners, after which he was promoted to Plant/Process Metallurgist. He joined Samancor Chrome's Tubatse Ferrochrome smelter as a Process Specialist in 2005, after which he was promoted to Production Superintendent in 2006 and later Operations Manager in 2011. Johan has been in his current position since 1 January 2017.

General Manager, Tubatse Alloy+ -
Gerhard Terblanche

Gerhard holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering and has more than 16 years’ experience in the ferroalloy industry. His career started in 2001 as an engineer-in-training at a ferrochrome smelter, after which he was promoted through various positions to the position of operations manager in 2010. In 2014 he took up the role as works manager at ASA Metals (Pty) Ltd and was promoted to General Manager Smelter in 2015. He continued his duties as General Manager when ASA Metals went into business rescue in 2016, mainly focussing on care and maintenance of the smelter and mine and subsequent business rescue activities. He has been in his current position since 1 March 2018.