Nam’s Zinc Miner Launches New Export Route


Windhoek –Rosh Pinah zinc and lead mine, Namibia’s second largest zinc producer, wants to clear close to 98 000 tonnes of stockpiled concentrates at the mine during 2014 first quarter, using a new shipping route it opened at nearby southern port of Lüderitz.

Rosh Pinah, a unit of Glencore Xstrata, the world’s largest and publicly listed commodities trader, stockpiled nearly a year’s production, 98 000 tonnes of zinc and lead concentrates, at the mine during the past year due to transport bottlenecks.

Rosh Pinah said it struggled to export concentrates after it moved shipments to Walvis Bay port, situated about 1 300 kilometres from the mine, due to rail transport bottlenecks, a source familiar with the mine’s operations told The Southern Times.

Rosh Pinah moved shipments to Walvis Bay in 2011 after Johannesburg-listed Exxaro Resources mothballed its Zincor refinery in Gauteng, the only refinery in Africa, which processed zinc sulphides, citing high operational costs.

“Over the past year, this route has become impractical due to various reasons including restrictions to rail capacity of about 10 000 tonnes per month. This has caused a large build-up of stocks of zinc concentrates at the mine resulting in serious and critical constraints on revenue generation,” the source said.

“Mining production was not affected by the rail capacity constraints, the challenge was on revenue flows,” the official added.

Rosh Pinah launched a new shipping route at Lüderitz port, 290 kilometres from the mine, on November 27, where it has constructed a storage facility, which handles 40 000 tonnes of concentrates of zinc metal, which is used to galvanise steel, a process that protects it from corrosion.

“The new export facility at the port of Lüderitz is an example of investing capital under adverse conditions. This investment demonstrates the mine’s commitment to reducing operating costs and improving the viability of the mine,” the source said.

Shipping material via Lüderitz is “the most cost effective and practical solution to export both zinc and lead concentrate” to the global market, the source said.

“Combined with operational efficiency gains as well as improved logistical control due to the close proximity of the port to the mine, this will deliver benefits to Rosh Pinah,” he added.

Exporting concentrates from the mine via Lüderitz will “depend on availability of ships and available capacity per ship” and material is going to be moved from port “on average every three months”.

“Using Lüderitz port it is possible to have normalised (reduced) stockpiles to acceptable levels during the first months of 2014,” the source said.

Glencore Xstrata holds a majority stake in Rosh Pinah, an underground operation 800 kilometres South of Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, which produces 70 000 tonnes of zinc and 28 000 tonnes of lead annually.

Rosh Pinah, the country’s second largest zinc producer after Vedanta Resources’ Skorpion zinc mine and refinery is situated 800 km from Windhoek, in southern Namibia. Glencore Xstrata bought a majority stake in the mine in 2011, which has been in operation since 1969.

Due to ongoing exploration, capital injection and improvement of operational technologies, Rosh Pinah’s mine life is currently at 2020.

December 2013
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