Manganese was first discovered in the late 1700s and has been produced in large quantities since that time, according to Jefferson Lab. The element does not occur in isolation, and is obtained by breaking down other minerals. The most common source of manganese is pyrolusite, which releases manganese when heated. Today, 90 percent of manganese is used to create steel. When manganese is added to molten steel, it increases the alloy's strength and makes it more impact resistant. In the first half of 2015, the price of manganese declined 30 percent, slipping under $3 per tonne, as per the Financial Times. The dip was due to declining demand for the metal and high stocks at Chinese ports. Booming construction in China has elevated the metal's price in recent years, but some analysts believe the recent dip could be the beginning of a lasting slump. With that in mind, it's interesting to look at which regions produce the most manganese. Here's a look at the 10 top manganese-producing countries, as per statistics from the US Geological Survey (USGS). 1. South Africa Mine production: 4.7 million tonnes South African holds 150 million tonnes of manganese in reserve, and between 2013 and 2014, its production of the metal increased by 400,000 tonnes between 2013 and 2014 . In March 2015, Brian Molefe, CEO of Transnet, South Africa's state-run logistics company, said the country intends to increase its manganese output threefold by 2019, according to Reuters. That plan would further secure South Africa's place at the top of the global manganese market. 2. ChinaMine production: 3.2 million tonnes Construction in China has been a key driver of recent spikes in manganese demand, and the country is also one of the top producers of the metal. Despite a slowdown in domestic demand and a declining price for manganese ore, China increased its production by 200,000 tonnes in 2014 compared to the previous year. That growth may slow, but market research firm Shanghai Metals Market said in a March report that it anticipates that the nation's ore output will grow less than 5 percent year-on-year for the next five years.