Vedanta Resources, a London Stock Exchange listed mining concern, has approved a US$782 million investment over a 3 year period, to develop an open pit zinc mine in Gamsberg, South Africa.
The company has also approved the conversion of the Namibian based Skorpion zinc refinery to process raw sulphide concentrate coming from Gamsberg. The majority of the investment, US$630 million, will go towards developing an open pit zinc mine, concentrator plant and associated infrastructure at Gamsberg. Of the investment, US$152 million will be spent in Namibia for oxide processing to sulphide.
The remainder will be used to convert the refinery at Skorpion zinc in Rosh Pinah thereby enabling it to refine zinc sulphide concentrates from the Gamsberg mine into special high grade zinc metal. “The new operation is basically an upgrade of the refinery, it is a brownfield expansion,” said Vedanta chief executive, Kishor Kumar.
He said that between 2015 and 2017, up to 400 jobs will be created in Namibia. The output from Gamsberg, coupled with extending the life of the refinery at Skorpion zinc is expected to make the Southern African region one of the most important suppliers of refined zinc globally. Trade and Industry minister Carle Schlettwein said the government’s investment in developing the Rosh Pinah road , and water related infrastructure will provide returns on the investment made.
“We feel that our efforts to improve the investment climate has borne fruit. We have an investor who is not only keeping the investment going and upgrading it but who is also pouring money into the economy,” he said, adding that the money will be used to develop the value chain further than mining for export alone. Skorpion Zinc is the 8th leading Zinc mine globally, producing Special High Grade (SHG) Zinc and since November 2010 it is owned and operated by Vedanta Resources. Skorpion zinc is one of the few mines in the world which mines zinc oxides, a mixture of non sulphidic zinc minerals. The Skorpion plant creates a unique high grade, pure zinc cathode as a prime product, which is very low in impurities thereby commanding a price premium.