Vedanta Resources and Anglo American announced an agreement on May 10 whereby Vedanta is purchasing Anglo American Zinc for a total consideration of $1.338 billion, with economic ownership transferred from January 1, 2010. The purchase is being undertaken through Hindustan Zinc Ltd. (HZL), a wholly-owned Vedanta subsidiary, and is structured as three separate transactions for purchase of Anglo American’s integrated, 100%-owned Skorpion zinc mine and refinery in Namibia for $698 million, its 74% interest in Black Mountain Mining in South Africa for $332 million, and its Lisheen zinc and lead mine in Ireland for $308 million. Vedanta is funding the transactions from existing cash resources.
The transactions are subject to regulatory approvals as well as competition clearance in the relevant jurisdictions. Exxaro Resources, Anglo American’s black economic empowerment partner in Black Mountain Mining, holds a 26% interest in the company and has a pre-emptive right to match Vedanta’s offer in respect of this asset. Vedanta expects to complete the three transactions within the next 12 months.

HZL’s current operations include three lead-zinc mines, three hydrometallurgical zinc smelters, one lead smelter, and one lead-zinc smelter in northwest India and one hydrometallurgical zinc smelter in southeast India. Acquisition of Anglo American Zinc will increase HZL’s attributable zinc and lead production capacity from about 1.06 million mt/y to 1.46 million mt/y, making the company the world’s largest zinc producer, with about 11% of the market. The transactions add about 206 million mt to HZL’s attributable zinc reserves and resources, an increase of 76%.

Skorpion Zinc mines oxide ores using open-cut mining methods and produces special high-grade (SHG) zinc using acid leaching, solvent extraction, electro-winning, and smelting technology. Development potential includes the newly discovered Gergarub zinc-lead sulphide deposit adjacent to Skorpion.

Black Mountain is an underground mine that uses sequential flotation to produce copper, lead, and zinc concentrates, with silver as a by-product. Black Mountain also has organic growth potential through development of its Gamsberg deposit, which has a JORC-compliant mineral resource of 186 million mt. Production from Gamsberg is contemplated at 400,000 mt/y of zinc metal, with an operating life of more than 20 years. Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwall said, “We intend to rapidly develop Gamsberg, one of the largest high-quality zinc projects in the world, leveraging our world-class large-project development expertise.”

The Lisheen zinc and lead underground mine in County Tipperary in central Ireland produces high-quality zinc concentrate, which, because of low levels of iron, mercury, silica, arsenic, and cadmium, is especially suitable for electrolytic smelting. More than 70% of the mine’s current zinc concentrate production is sold on long-term contracts to smelters worldwide. The mine’s lead concentrate is sold on long-term contracts in Western Europe and some former Eastern Bloc countries.

Of the transaction, Anglo American chief executive Cynthia Carroll said, “This agreement represents an important milestone in our strategy to focus on our core commodity businesses.”

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