SA’s only zinc refinery closes temporarily

[] — SOUTH African diversified miner Exxaro said it suspended operations at its Zincor refinery east of Johannesburg after an explosion on Thursday morning killed three workers and injured 12 others.

The National Union of Mineworkers, the country’s biggest union, said in a statement the accident at the refinery occurred after stored gas bottles exploded.

“Operations at Zincor are suspended today to allow for investigations to take place, as well as the full restoration of electricity supply which was damaged in the incident,” Exxaro said in a statement.

It said its management would decide on Friday whether or not to restart operations.

The plant has the capacity to produce 110,000 tonnes a year of zinc and 170,000 tonnes per year of sulphuric acid.

“The scene of the accident has been secured and contractors and employees involved are receiving counselling and support,” the company said.

The accident happened days after another explosion at the South African unit of the world’s biggest steel maker. Arcelormittal South Africa said a worker died after the blast at its Vanderbijlpark steel mill.