Engineering & Mining Journal

APR 2019

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REGIONAL NEWS - AFRICA 18 E&MJ • APRIL 2019 www.e-mj.com Vedanta Zinc Starts Gamsberg Mine By Gavin du Venage, South African Editor The Gamsberg zinc mine in South Africa's Northern Cape Province has now officially launched. The US$400 million project has a life of mine of 13 years and will produce 4 million tons per year (t/y) from its open pit, and another 250,000 tons annually of concentrate from its concentrator plant. The project is being driven by Vedan- ta Zinc International, the India-based industrial and mining firm under their Black Mountain Mining complex. At its first phase, the mine employed more than 3,000 people at the height of construc- tion. Around 800 to 850 people will be employed permanently, once Gamsberg is in production. The mine was officially opened in ear- ly March by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, at a time when greenfield projects are rare in the country. "The Vedanta Gamsberg project is an important step in our shared journey to revive our mining industry," Ramaphosa said. "It confirms our view that with an effective regulatory framework, improved collaboration between all stakeholders and sustained investment, mining has the potential to be a sunrise industry." The South African mining sector has struggled to lure investments, as govern- ment policy over the past five years pur- suing local ownership kept capital away. Ramaphosa took office in early 2018 and has reversed most of this policy direction. He said as policy certainty was intro- duced, further projects would follow. "We are confident that we will see more mining projects of this magnitude as many more investors, like Vedanta, see the great potential not only in mining, but also across the South African economy," Ramaphosa added. Vedanta meanwhile said Gamsberg sits atop of one of the world's largest unexploit- ed zinc ore bodies. It has a reserve and re- source of more than 214 million tons, with a grade of between 6% and 6.5% zinc. Vedanta plans at least two expansion phases beyond the current operation. Ore mined will be increased to 8 million t/y and production of zinc-in-concentrate to 600,000 tons annually. This will cost an- other US$400 million. Further, the orebody is rich in sulphide, which opens the possibility of sulphuric acid produced as a byproduct. Combining the sulphuric acid with known phosphate re- serves in the area could lead to the creation of a regional fertilizer industry, Vedanta said. A significant challenge the new oper- ation will face is a consistent electricity supply. South Africa is undergoing critical energy shortages that lead to scheduled blackouts, known locally as "loadshedding." This could interfere with productivity. "We need to be able to depend on stable electricity," CEO of Vedanta Zinc Inter- national Deshnee Naidoo said. The com- pany has plans to partner with indepen- dent energy producers, she added, with- out going into details. However, the Northern Cape is already home to numer- ous solar farms, which could be a likely source of power to Gamsberg. Demand for zinc is expected to grow over the next four years, according to an- alytics company GlobalData. Vinneth Ba- jaj, senior mining analyst at GlobalData, said production was also on the uptick. "After declining substantially in 2016, global zinc mine production in- creased in both 2017 and 2018, respec- tively," Bajaj said. "However, the market has remained in a severe deficit." Endeavour's Ity CIL Project Pours First Gold Endeavour Mining's Ity carbon-in-leach (CIL) project in Côte d'Ivoire poured its first gold on March 18, ahead of schedule and under budget. The initial pour yielded approximately 1,800 ounces (oz) of gold. CIL processing at Ity is coming on stream as the property's heap-leach operations are winding down. Mining and stacking activ- ities for heap leaching ceased in mid-De- cember. Residual gold from the heaps of up to 5,000 oz was scheduled to be recovered during the first quarter of 2019. Endeavour expected to declare com- mercial production for Ity CIL early in the second quarter of 2019. Following performance tests already conducted, En- deavour has launched optimization and de-bottlenecking work that is expected to increase plant nameplate capacity from an initial 4 million metric tons per year (mt/y) to 5 million mt/y. cost of $10 million to $15 million. These plant upgrades will be completed during scheduled plant mainte- nance shutdowns over the next six months. Endeavour President and CEO Sébastien de Montessus said, "As we approach com- mercial production, I would like to acknowl- edge the hard work of our in-house con- struction team for successfully delivering the Ity CIL project ahead of schedule and under budget, with an exceptional safety re- cord of more than 8.5 million hours without a lost-time injury. This first gold pour and the remarkably quick ramp-up period is a transformational event for Endeavour, as the Ity CIL project will quickly contribute to our cash generation potential." South African President Cyril Ramphosa inspects new technology at the Gamsberg operation after the ribbon cutting ceremony. (Photo: Vedanta Zinc)

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