New Anglo zinc deposits in Southern Africa

[] — ANGLO American’s exploration teams have found new zinc deposits adjacent the Skorpion mine in southern Namibia and the existing huge Gamsberg deposit near Black Mountain in South Africa’s Northern Cape.

Limited details on the discoveries – which are both still at the exploration stage so there are no definitive resource numbers available – were given by Anglo exploration vice-president Ian Willis to the Africa Down Under conference being held in Perth, Western Australia.

Willis said the Spitzkop discovery, which is situated some seven kilometres from the Skorpion mine, was a new potential feed stock source which could extend the life of the mine.

“We found this deposit virtually as a last throw of the dice in our drilling work in that region. We do not yet have a defined resource and its potential as a feedstock for Skorpion is being investigated.

“We are very optimistic about this discovery because it has good widths and reasonable grades and we would love to mine it.’

Turning to Gamsberg, Willis said the Gamsberg East deposit had been found in September 2005 and Anglo’s exploration teams were continuing to drill it out.

“It’s a good discovery,” he said, adding it’s a Broken Hill type deposit and the indicative size at this stage is some 20mt to 30mt of ore at grades between 9% and 11% zinc based on a cut-off of 7%.

Interviewed after his presentation Willis said he was unable to comment on how the Gamsberg East discovery might improve the development potential of the overall Gamsberg complex.

This is South Africa’s largest zinc deposit but Anglo American and previous owner Gold Fields of South Africa (GFSA) have been evaluating its prospects for more than 20 years but have never taken a decision to develop it.

Reasons given by GFSA for holding back included the state of the zinc market and the difficulty involved in treating the ore which is high in manganese content.

Anglo American acquired Gamsberg along with the nearby Black Mountain base metal mine when GFSA was broken up in the late 1990s.

Anglo immediately undertook a feasibility study on Gamsberg in 1999 which looked at developing a mine at a then estimated cost of R4bn to produce about 200,000 tonnes/year of zinc.