VZI’s flagship zinc project, Gamsberg, forms part of the Black Mountain Mining operations, and is located about 30km from the BMM base at Aggeneys. Gamsberg is being developed as an open pit mine with a dedicated plant, on one of the largest known, unexploited zinc orebodies in the world.
While Gamsberg's grade is relatively low – between 6 and 6.5% – its potential is enormous. The current reserve and resource is 214M, with a life-of-mine estimated at 30 years. A substantial portion of the orebody has yet to be drilled to prove additional reserves and resources.
The first blast for Phase 1 of the Project took place in July 2015 and work to establish the V-cut and access ramp, and pre-stripping is well advanced. Phase 1 will see the production of 4Mtpa of ore, resulting in zinc concentrate of 250,000tpa.
Phase 1 will create between 1,200 and 1,500 jobs in the construction phase and between 850 and 900 permanent jobs once the mine is in production.
The Gamsberg team was able to significantly reduce the capital cost of Phase 1 by US$200 million to US$400 million to keep the project on track when the zinc price weakened. This was achieved through a range of innovative adjustments.
With first production expected by mid-2018, Gamsberg will be well positioned to leverage the prevailing zinc price, the current buoyancy of which is expected to continue due to a shortfall in zinc supply arising from recent zinc mine closures, others nearing the end of their productive lives, few new mines coming on stream and exploration cutbacks.
It is envisaged that at least a portion of Gamsberg's zinc-in-concentrate production will be trucked to the Skorpion Refinery in Namibia for refining. While the Skorpion refinery can manage the manganese content of Gamsberg's concentrate, it needs to be configured to refine sulphide concentrate of Gamsberg. Gamsberg and Skorpion, linked in this way, would create a substantial southern African integrated zinc-producing complex.
A critical feature of Gamsberg’s development is its approach to biodiversity. The Project is being developed in a designated biodiversity "hotspot" – one of seven in South Africa and one of just 35 in the world. This has required extensive engagement with key stakeholders – government, NGOs, landowners, – which has resulted in a unique biodiversity offset agreement. We are working close in partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world's oldest and largest environmental organisation, to ensure effective implementation of the agreement.