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Zinc refinery to get facelift

Vedanta Resources plc last week announced that it has approved a US$782 million investment over a three year period, to develop an open pit zinc mine in Gamsberg, South Africa as well as the conversion of the Skorpion Zinc Refinery in Rosh Pinah.
Of the amount to be invested US$152 million will be spent to convert the refinery at Rosh Pinah thereby enabling it to refine zinc sulphide concentrates from the Gamsberg mine into high grade zinc metal while approximately US$630 million will go towards developing an open-pit zinc mine, concentrator plant and associated infrastructure at Gamsberg, one of the world’s largest undeveloped zinc deposits.

Minister of Trade and Industry Calle Schlettwien said he was pleased that the investment in zinc mining has borne fruit and would show significant benefits in both streams of the value chain upstream as well as downstream. “On top of now having a proper supply of zinc, the money generated from the investment will be used to develop the value chain further than mining for export alone,” he added.
Schlettwein said Namibians can look forward to the expansion of secure employment opportunities at the refinery as it is growing.
The investment is set to create a further 300 to 400 job during the construction phase on top of the current 350 permanent jobs at the refinery.
He added that the upgrade of the current refinery would now make Namibia a potential Zinc hub as more investors would be attracted into further investments therefore bringing in more money into the economy.
Vedanta Chief Executive, Kishor Kumar said the project will also produce sulphuric acid in abundance which of which 70% will be sold to local markets and the remaining 30% to international markets.
He added that due to unplanned maintenance activities at the refinery, Skorpion Zinc mine had limited mining output. Kumar said that with the conversion, the refinery is set to produce150 000 tonnes of metal per year over the periods of 2015 to 2017 as the refinery still has a substantial lifespan and would be viable for further exploration.
Said Kumar,“The output from Gamsberg, coupled with extending the life of the world class refinery at Rosh Pinah, will make the southern African region one of the most important suppliers of refined zinc globally.”
Meanwhile, Vedanta estimates that the Gamsberg Project, located near the town of Aggeneys in South Africa’s Northern Province, will create approximately 1500 jobs during the construction phase and will result in approximately 500 permanent jobs. The first phase of the project is expected to have a total lifespan of approximately 13 years with the first ore likely to be produced in 2017/18.

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