JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – London-listed diversified mining company Vedanta Resources has found itself in a sweet spot as the owner of the zinc assets that Anglo American saw fit to sell off four years ago, when China seemed in perpetual oversupply mode and small operations abounded.
But China is no longer supplying as it did in the past and there have been anticipatory price improvements over the last eight months on the expectation that zinc supply is leaving the market.
The only other London Metal Exchange commodity that is approaching zinc’s current price firmness is aluminium, also because of market pessimism engulfing it for so long.
Meanwhile, the reserves of Anglo’s former zinc assets have been significantly extended under Vedanta’s management, to a point where the India-rooted company will have full payback of its original investment even before the deal’s key Gamsberg asset comes into play.
Vedanta bought Anglo Zinc for $1 338-million in May 2010 and has been investing in underground and near-pit development since 2012. The additional life it has given to the Black Mountain mine in South Africa’s Northern Cape and the Skorpion operations in Namibia has added significant value.
Even Anglo’s former zinc mine in Lisheen, Ireland, which was scheduled, when bought, to close in 2013, will now only close in October.
“Anything we get from Gamsberg will be a straight dividend,” Vedanta CEO Tom Albanese explained to Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online on the sidelines of the Mining Indaba.
The site of one of the world’s largest zinc deposits, Gamsberg is situated 20 km from the Black Mountain mine, near the mining town of Aggeneys.
Gamsberg is the focal point of a $630-million Vedanta investment in an opencast zinc mine, concentrator plant and associated infrastructure, which will create 1 500 jobs during construction and 500 permanent jobs when in operation.
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