Gamsberg production remains suspended whilst Vedanta searches for last missing miner

Vedanta Zinc International's Gamsberg, South Africa

THE search for the last of 10 miners trapped at Vedanta Zinc International’s (VZI) Gamsberg zinc mine was continuing and mining activity remained suspended, said Reuters citing VZI in a report over the weekend.

“Mining-related activities at Gamsberg Mine remain suspended until further notice,” the company said. It has called in technical experts to conduct the rescue operation.

The shut down of the mine, which halted operations from November 17 following a “geotechnical incident”, sent prices of the fourth most widely consumed metal on the London Metals Exchange to a 18-month high of $2,793 per ton on November 20.

A geotechnical incident is usually an accident that occurs due to damage to underground excavations, said Reuters.

The mine, located in the Northern Cape province of South Africa and bordering south of Namibia, has been operational since 2019 and was close to ramping up to its top 250,000 tons of zinc in concentrate capacity.

As many as 10 employees were trapped after the accident, which occurred on Tuesday morning (November 17). Eight have so far been rescued and one has died, the company has said.

The number of mining-related fatalities on South African mines fell 57% in 2019 to 51 from 81 fatalities in 2018 with the decline biggest among the gold sector, according to statistics compiled by the Minerals Council South Africa. But injuries on South African mines year-on-year were down only 2% to 2,406 incidents, the council said.