JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Diversified mining company Vedanta, which is being associated with the acquisition of 13% of the equity of Anglo American by Volcan Investments because of the link both these entities have with Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal, has done well with the South African assets it acquired from Anglo seven years ago.
On the $1 338-million Vedanta paid for Anglo’s zinc assets in 2010, the London-listed, India-rooted company achieved full payback two years later through decisive underground and near-pit mining.
It is now managing to do what both Anglo and Gold Fields failed to do before it – build a zinc mine at Gamsberg, in South Africa’s Northern Cape, which has been 40 years in the waiting.
Vedanta’s face in these parts is that of Deshnee Naidoo, formerly of Anglo American, who has managed to shave close to $200-million off the project’s original capital estimate to take it down to $400-million.
In a video interview with Mining Weekly Online last year, Naidoo again outlined Vedanta’s thrift culture in that the company is planning to use revenue generated during the Gamsberg project’s first phase to help fund its second phase, which will probably include a new 300 MW to 350 MW zinc refinery at a cost of nothing less than $500-million to $600-million. (Also watch the attached Creamer Media video interview).
The zinc price has been recovering well, buoyant on a fall-off in supply, exemplified by Vedanta’s own closure of the former Anglo Lisheen zinc mine in Ireland.
A contract to establish and mine the Gamsberg opencast zinc operation has been awarded to Aveng Moolmans by Black Mountain Mining, a Vedanta Zinc International operation.
The contract award to Aveng Moolmans involves the setting up and commissioning of a concentrator plant and associated infrastructure for the opencast mine, which is located on one of the world’s largest undeveloped zinc deposits, 20 km east of the town of Aggeneys, in South Africa’s Northern Cape.
Engineering solutions provider ELB’s Engineering Services will oversee the construction of the process, power and water plants at the project.
While all this is taking place, Vedanta chairperson Agarwal’s use of Volcan as his vehicle to swoop on £2-billion worth of Anglo’s shares is heightening speculation that the linked Vedanta may be after the rest of Anglo’s South African assets, many of which until recently had for-sale signs on them.
Agarwal, Naidoo and Vedanta CEO Tom Albanese were prominent at last month’s Investing in African Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, where they usurped Anglo’s usual position of main stage sponsor.
In their combined main stage presentation, Agarwal and Albanese displayed an appetite for more African investment in general and more South African investment in particular.
During his visit to South Africa in July last year to coincide with the visit to this country of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Agarwal waxed lyrical about South Africa’s rich natural resources sector being underexplored.
During his visit, Vedanta signed two memorandums of understanding with South African companies.
In September, the company won a prestigious Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy award that recognised the contribution of the company’s cataract surgery project to the advancement of health and wellness. (See picture).