Zambia Seeks Indian Cooperation in Zinc Production

The African nation of Zambia has sought India’s co-operation in the field of zinc and other non-ferrous metal mining and production.

Zambian Vice President Guy Scott, who was on a visit to India recently, expressed his nation’s wish to strike a deal on this front with India. Scott also visited the Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL) plant owned by the Vedanta Group in India’s central state of Rajasthan, during his two-day visit.

Hindustan Zinc is one of the world’s largest integrated zinc producers. The company is producing approximately 1.4 million tons of products every year.

According to a report in The Economic Times, during his interaction with the senior management of Hindustan Zinc, the Zambian vice president expressed satisfaction on having seen the world’s largest integrated zinc producer.

The significance of the visit was not lost on analysts here. Vedanta Resources has copper operations through Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) in Zambia. The company operates two mines at Nchanga, made up of an underground mine and four open pits. KCM is targeting production of 400,000 tons per year of copper. Vedanta holds about 79.4 percent shares in the company.

The Zambian delegation also visited the Rampura Agucha zinc mine in Bhilwara, Rajasthan. This mine has ore production capacity of 6.15 million tons annually.

According to the International Lead & Zinc Study Group (ILZSG), global supply of zinc was expected to outstrip demand by 293,000 tons in 2013, compared to a 153,000-ton surplus in 2012.

Demand from China, India and Brazil was likely to play a big role in determining the outlook for the base metal. Zinc demand was also projected to grow in India in 2013-14. For 2012-13, demand was pegged at 600,000 tons.

The Vedanta Group had a few years ago acquired the Government of India’s majority stake in HZL. Later, its efforts to buy out the residual stake of 29.54 percent ran into problems, and the move is still in limbo.

HZL now finds itself in the middle of a new mess after it had asked employees of its Vishakhapatnam plant to move to the plant in Rajasthan, as the former was making losses. HZL’s stated view was that since zinc metal production in the Vishakhapatnam facility had been stopped for the last year or so, the company had decided to transfer employees to other operational units in Rajasthan.

While signing off his visit, Zambia’s VP also spoke of the need to send an expert team to India to understanding the various Indian operations.

Sohrab Darabshaw contributes an Indian perspective to MetalMiner.

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