Vedanta to suspend operations at Namibian zinc unit

Skorpion Zinc mine (Credit: Vedanta Resources)

Vedanta Zinc International, a unit of diversified miner Vedanta Resources, said on Monday it would suspend operations at its Skorpion Zinc mine and refinery in Namibia by the end of April.

Vedanta said the decision to place Skorpion Zinc on care and maintenance, which means operations stop but are kept in a condition to resume in future, was taken because of pit failures that had paralysed a significant portion of the open-cast mine.

The failures, the latest of which occurred in January, resulted in an ore gap of more than 10 months, the company said, adding that further technical studies had indicated the existence of similar failures at depth.

Roughly 1,500 employees in the southern African country will be affected by the suspension in operations.

“The decision has been taken to cease all mining operations while studies continue to look at feasible ways to make the pit safe for mining options, which would allow for the extraction of the remainder of the accessible ore,” the statement said.

Vedanta said last year it would shut Skorpion Zinc for four months.

Skorpion Zinc expected to produce 90,000 tonnes of the metal in 2018, rising to around 130,000 tonnes in 2020, according to Vedanta’s website. The global zinc market is around 14 million tonnes a year.

(By Nyasha Nyaungwa; Editing by Alexander Winning and Edmund Blair)

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