President Ramaphosa to launch $400m zinc mine in South Africa’s Northern cape

India’s globally diversified natural resources company Vedanta Resources Limited will on Thursday launch a R5.5 billion zinc mine in South Africa’s Northern Cape as part of its Black Mountain Mining (BMM) operations. The mine will be launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The South African Presidency said Gamsberg will exploit one of the largest known, undeveloped zinc ore bodies in the world and will comprise an open pit mine and a dedicated processing plant. The mine has resources and reserves of 214 million tons. In the first phase which will be launched on Thursday, 4 million tpa of ore will be mined, producing 250,000 tpa of zinc concentrate.

“The first phase of the zinc mine, which has an estimated lifespan of over 30 years, is an investment of $400 million, (over R5.5 billion), which employed more than 3000 people at the height of construction,” the presidency said.

“Around 700 people will be employed permanently once Gamsberg is in production.”

A further $400 million investment is planned for the second phase as part of a total investment plan, including future projects, estimated at over a billion US dollars.

Vendata has already invested more than R44 million in skills development, education, health and enterprise development and municipal infrastructure support projects in the communities around its mine. To ensure the communities further benefit, Vedanta supports and prioritises local procurement, creating positive spinoffs for small and medium enterprises in the area.

Residents of resource-rich communities have often been on the receiving end of mining activities, sometimes getting caught in cross-fires between security agents and illegal miners and at other times, being forcefully relocated to make way for mines. There is also the risk of the effect of mining activities on biodiversity. The site of Gamsberg is a diversity hotspot. Hence, Vedanta is working with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and a biodiversity offset agreement has been signed.

President Ramaphosa is expected to open the mine along with Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, who had in recent times increased calls for local beneficiation of minerals. South African government officials, including the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, have visited Vedanta’s headquarters in India to discuss partnership in fields such as copper smelting, zinc beneficiation and captive power generation. Local engineers are also expected to travel to India for training as part of the Vedanta global leadership programme.