Vedanta Zinc International has started a feasibility study into the construction of a zinc smelter-refinery complex to process concentrates from its Gamsberg project at Black Mountain Mining.
The establishment of the proposed beneficiation plant will make Gamsberg a fully integrated zinc production site, with the mine, concentrator and smelter-refinery complex at single location, making it the first integrated zinc manufacturing facility in South Africa.
In line with the group’s commitment to Southern Africa, the proposed investment would have a significant positive impact on the Northern Cape, creating jobs – directly and indirectly – and further developmental opportunities in the region.
It is envisaged that the first phase of the smelter-refinery complex will have a capacity of 250,000 tpa of finished zinc metal.
As the entire Gamsberg project has been developed in a modular fashion, so the smelter-refinery complex could also be expanded to align with Gamsberg Phases 2 and 3.
The feasibility study will evaluate the infrastructural requirements of the complex - the beneficiation facility will require around 200 MW of additional power, and additional water supply.
Both would mean significant large-scale investment.
The scope of the feasibility study includes a review of previous work undertaken by Vedanta Zinc International into the possibility of developing a Southern African zinc cluster that would incorporate both Black Mountain and Skorpion Zinc, located in southern Namibia.
Skorpion Zinc currently operates an integrated zinc refinery, and the potential exists for the conversion of this 150,000 tpa refinery to co-treat sulphide and oxide concentrates from Gamsberg and other sulphide concentrate raw materials from nearby.
Should these projects proceed, this Southern African zinc cluster has the potential to be one of the world’s largest zinc supply regions.
This feasibility study is in line with Vedanta’s commitment to beneficiating to final metal, which is the model followed by the group in India.
The Gamsberg refinery could see a further investment by Vedanta of between US$700 million and US$800 million.