Vedanta Zinc International (VZI) is a grouping of zinc assets located in South Africa and Namibia, owned by the sixth-largest diversified resources company in the world, Vedanta Limited. Vedanta Limited recently invested R5-billion into VZI’s flagship, Gamsberg open-pit and concentrator project in the Northern Cape province, which is now fully operational and was inaugurated in February 2019 by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
VZI’s operations include Black Mountain Mining (Pty) Ltd (consisting of underground operations Deeps and Swartberg as well as the flagship surface operation, Gamsberg Project) located in South Africa’s Northern Cape province, and the Skorpion Zinc Mine and refinery in Namibia’s //Kharas region. VZI’s vision is to create an integrated, world-class regional zinc complex with the values of Safety, Trust, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Excellence, Integrity, Respect and Care at the core of their business.
As of March 2020, VZI employed more than 4 200 people (including business partners), of which 99% are South Africans: 80% are from the Northern Cape and 60% from the Namakwa District.
VZI’s Gamsberg Phase I open-pit mine represents $400-million worth of investment into South Africa by the Vedanta Group. Life of mine extension at other mines in the complex ($46-million), Gambserg Phase II ($350-million) and a further $850-million worth of investment on a possible Gamsberg Smelter-Refinery Complex are potential future investments in the South African mining sector.
The smelter-refinery is subject to the availability of power and support from government to make the project economically viable.
Gamsberg has implemented a unique flotation system, the Staged Flotation Reactors (pictured above). They break the conventional flotation paradigm into individual, optimised reactors which drastically reduce energy and air consumption. The footprint in the plant gets reduced by around 50%, operations become easier and maintenance costs are lower. VZI is the first company in Africa to adopt Staged Floatation Reactors.
Backfilling operations is an integral part of Black Mountain. Underground mining creates voids which need to be filled. This provides opportunities for mining operations like Black Mountain to dispose of waste material underground and provide support and stability to the surrounding rock mass.
The Succulent Karoo Biome is unique in its floral diversity. Among the 36 global biodiversity hotspots, the biome is home to at least 6 000 species of plants that have evolved over millennia. VZI’s environmental specialists have worked closely with a wide range of experts, including those from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), to ensure the site’s necessary protection, preservation and ultimate restoration.
The Gamsberg Nursery is derived from the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and the requirements for the Integrated Flora Permit. Since October 2019, there have been 12 000 plants grown with 379 different species. After the upgrade, 129 000 plants will be housed in the nursery.
VZI has joined hands with PinkDrive NPC, a significant player in the gender-related cancer sector, to bring critical screening to the Northern Cape. The outreach programme is for the communities of Okiep, Nababeep, Bergsig, Pella and Pofadder. The campaign aims to create awareness, provide education and render health-related services to community members. Community members are also provided with free screening and testing for Covid-19.
In 2015, 12 new local businesses were created and commercial opportunities to the value of R7.1-million were provided. Childcare and education support programmes benefit more than 1 800 children at a cost of R6-million per annum. Youth and sports clubs are supported. The total spend on corporate social responsibility and community work is over $14-million to FY2020.
During the Covid-19 lockdown period, many outreaches were made throughout the region. Items distributed included masks, hand sanitiser, gloves, care packages, face shields, food and clothing to areas within the Khai Ma and Nama Khoi municipal areas. Visits were made to old-age homes and disability care centres and schools.