Zinc smelter for Rosh Pinah
Another positive development was revealed this week by a mining house to give substance to the government stated intention of forcing commodity producers to increase local value adding. Targeted in the fourth National Development Plan, and supported by such policies as the Export Levy on unprocessed minerals, growing the local industrial base, especially for primary commodities, is a key element of building an economy based on expanding the secondary sector.
Owner of the Skorpion zinc mine, Vedanta, this week announced plans to expand refining operations. As part of Vedanta’s new vision for operations in southern Africa, the complex at Rosh Pinah is to be one of the zinc anchors in Africa, as outlined by Tom Albanese, Chief Executive Officer of Vedanta Resources plc, during a keynote address at the Mining on Top summit in London on Thursday.
Introducing Vedanta’s operations in southern Africa, Albanese said, “Part of our new vision at Vedanta is for an integrated zinc/lead business in southern Namibia and the Northern Cape of South Africa, creating an integrated zinc smelter/refinery complex at Rosh Pinah.”
“We will be looking to see how we can further leverage this economically in an area of high unemployment and a fragile arid zone biodiversity. This becomes our zinc anchor in Africa,’’ he added.
Speaking about the mining industry’s contribution to economic development, Albanese said, “mining has already created much that is positive, but there are new expectations of what we need to do in the future. I suggest that we can indeed create yet more value, building on a century’s learning and leveraging what we do across the African continent, to provide more benefits, more advantages and more wealth for all stakeholders.’’
Using their experience in Zambia as a guideline for developments at Rosh Pinah, Albanese said, “In the Zambian Copperbelt, at KCM, we continue to invest and to develop. Vedanta paid US$261 million to acquire a 79.4% stake in KCM. We have invested US$2.9 billion over the last decade in a new copper smelter, three new concentrators, a tailings leach plant and new underground facilities. We have reinvested all of our earnings back into the company.”
“This has supported the creation of 5,000 new construction jobs and in the meantime, salaries at KCM have more than doubled in real terms. In support of wider economic development in the area, we continue to expand our vocational technical college – one of the largest private sector facilities in the region.” he added.
Albanese said, “for technical reasons that have delayed the ramp-up of copper production after these massive investments, KCM has been loss-making of late and some challenges remain, but to be clear, Vedanta Resources is committed to KCM and to Zambia.
He called for action to create real sustainability in mining and said, “Some have suggested that mining sustainability is an oxymoron: how can digging up and removing something be sustainable? But I believe that mining can be sustainable if we are putting back an equal value of future opportunity.”
“At Vedanta, we appreciate how we need to do this and we will continue to engage widely to create this shared value. Creating future opportunities in return for today’s commodities is not just a ‘nice to have’: it is essential for the sustainability of our companies, our industry, our communities and the nations and people of Africa,’’he said.