Vedanta Resources has approved a $782 million investment over a three-year period to develop an open-pit zinc mine in Gamsberg, South Africa, and to modify its Skorpion zinc refinery at Rosh Pina, Namibia, to enable processing of 60% of the Gamsberg concentrates into special high grade zinc metal. The majority of the investment, approximately $630 million, will go toward developing an open-pit zinc mine, concentrator, and associated infrastructure at Gamsberg.
The Gamsberg mine will be located 20 km east of Vedanta’s existing Black Mountain zinc-lead mine in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. Black Mountain has a current mine life to 2021 and is operated by Black Mountain Mining, which is owned 74% by Sesa Sterlite Ltd., a listed subsidiary of Vedanta Resources, and 26% by Exxaro Resources, a diversified resources company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
The Gamsberg mine will produce about 4 million metric tons per year (mt/y) of ore at grades of 6.53% zinc, 0.51% lead and 0.75% manganese. The concentrator will produce 250,000 mt/y of zinc in concentrates. The Skorpion refinery will process about 60% of this production. The remaining concentrates will be sold. The first phase of the Gamsberg open-pit mine is expected to have a 13-year mine life, with the first ore likely to be produced in 2017 or 2018.
The Skorpion refinery in southern Namibia currently processes zinc oxide ores from the Skorpion open-pit mine, where mine life is scheduled to end in 2017 or 2018. Modifications of the refinery to allow processing of Gamsberg’s sulphide concentrates will include installation of a roaster, acid plant and calcine leach section. The existing solvent extraction/electrowinning plant will remain in place.
Vedanta CEO Tom Albanese said, “The Gamsberg-Skorpion integrated zinc project is central to Vedanta’s long-term aspirations for southern Africa. This project provides significant synergies to both our operations and compliments the needs of the region.”