SA’s unassuming role in the global zinc market is about to step up a notch or two, with aggressive expansion by Vendanta Zinc International and newcomer Orion Minerals restarting production from the shuttered Prieska mine, with the companies tapping into what they see as an improving market for the mineral. South African production of zinc, which is used to prevent iron and steel from corroding and to make alloys, will be 250,000 tonnes a year in concentrate from Vendanta’s Gamsberg mine, rising to 400,000 tonnes in a second-phase expansion and even 600,000 tonnes if a third phase is triggered, says Vedanta Zinc International CEO Deshnee Naidoo. The Prieska mine will start off with an aspirational 40,000 to 60,000 tonnes a year of zinc in concentrate, barely a blip on the international supply market. Zinc discovery According to a 1991 paper in the Journal of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, there was concern up to the late 1960s that zinc was not included in SA’...

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