Vedanta to Refine 60% South Africa Zinc Mine’s Output in Namibia

Vedanta Resources Plc, the mining group founded by Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal, said more than half the zinc sulphide concentrates from a new $630 million mine in South Africa will be refined in neighboring Namibia.

The company will move 60 percent of output from the Gamsberg mine in South Africa by road to Namibia’s Skorpion zinc refinery, which was originally designed to handle zinc oxides and is being converted to treat sulphides, Kishore Kumar, chief executive officer of Vedanta Zinc International, said in an interview today in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital. It will transport zinc ingots by rail from the facility to the southern port of Luderitz, he said.

“We would also like to beneficiate concentrates from the global market” at Skorpion, he said. “All the local zinc sulphide concentrates could be treated at our refinery,” establishing Namibia as a “zinc-producing hub,” he said.

Zinc, used to protect steel against corrosion, has climbed about 9 percent this year. In addition to developing Gamsberg, one of the world’s biggest undeveloped zing deposits, Vedanta is investing $152 million to convert the refinery at Skorpion mine.

Construction work at the facility will start mid-2015. Converting the refinery will prolong operations at Skorpion, where mining will cease in 2017 because its ore body is depleted. Vedanta also plans to handle sulphides from the Glencore Plc-controlled Rosh Pinah zinc and lead mine, whose operations are adjacent to Skorpion, Kumar said.

Vedanta bought Skorpion from Anglo American Plc as part of a $1.34 billion purchase of its zinc assets including Gamsberg and the Lisheen operation in Ireland, completing the transaction in 2010. Vedanta is investing $630 million building the Gamsberg mine, an open-pit operation that’s expected to start in 2018.

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