…US$200 million primed to create capacity for 12-30 year life span
By Hilary Mare
WITH the Skorpion Zinc mine having invested US$200 million to extend the life of mine until 2021, Confidente can reveal that the firm hopes that this investment will generate enough capacity to convert the firm’s refinery to co-process sulphide ore which would subsequently extend the lifespan of the mine to between 12 and 30 years.
In an exclusive interview with Confidente last week, general manager of the mine, Irvinne Simataa highlighted that they see the future firmly on the refinery which would require an additional investment of US$160 million
“The decisions we made in 2017 were purely to give us time to create a longer future. On the US$200 million invested, we have already spent in the region of US$52 million in the previous financial year. This year we will spend some more probably US$60 million. The returns of this current investment of US$200 million are what we hope to use to create a future because from our perspective, our future is basically the refinery that requires US$160 million,” Simataa said.
Optimistic about the prospects of the future and Return on Investment (ROI), Simataa added that this was the second year of the project that we started in April 2017 and that the company had done well in terms of the project as well as setting up this year.
“We have to consolidate the gains that we have made last year and this is inclusive of technological breakthroughs that we have harnessed. At this stage the money is being used for pre stripping which is mining of waste for the company to get to the ore.
“There is a lot of mining that needs to be done and this is the difficulty because this investment is being made without any money coming right away. The returns may only come next year. The work that we have been doing for the past two years is actually to prepare us to ramp up to full capacity of 150 000 tonnes. So in general the US$200 million is to create value for the 160 million projects and that project can’t create a 12-30 year future for us,” he explained.
The mine in southern Namibia, which is the only integrated zinc mine and refinery in Africa that fully beneficiates its natural resource from ore to zinc metal, is in the process of ramping up its mining activities and upgrading its plant and equipment to produce 150,000 tonnes of the ore body on an annual basis.
The mine however only utilised 65 percent of its total capacity during the last financial year when it produced approximately 85,000 tonnes.
“We want to have full capacity next year that’s because the ore will be (the ore we are pre stripping right now). In terms of prices, we expect the prices to stabilise at US$2700 per tonne,” Simataa told Confidente.
The mine aims to produce up to 91,000 tonnes during the 2017/18 financial year.
Recently, Simataa was quoted by a daily newspaper commenting on the expected lifespan of the mine saying that operations could extend beyond 2021 and also did not rule out the possibility of transforming mining from the current open-pit method to go underground.
“Our (exploration) drilling efforts have increased two-fold. Within the next 12 to 15 months we will know if there is merit to go underground,” Simataa revealed.
On the refinery side of the mine, which produces 99.995 percent pure zinc ingots, but currently only processes oxide ore, Simataa earlier confirmed that the mine’s management is considering converting the refinery to co-process sulphide ore as well.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015