Friday, December 14, 2018
Deshnee Naidoo

Deshnee Naidoo

Vedanta Zinc International

THERE aren’t many global companies investing in mining in Southern Africa at present. Vedanta Zinc is one of them. It is putting another $200m into its Skorpion zinc mine in Namibia to lengthen its life for three-and-a-half years. This comes on top of the $400m that it is investing in its Gamsberg lead and zinc mine near Aggeneys in South Africa, where it is also considering building a refinery, although this depends on 300MW of electricity becoming available. Vedanta chairman, Anil Agarwal, in his personal capacity, has invested in Anglo American shares. Naidoo said South Africa has a conducive climate for engaging with local stakeholders. Perhaps Indian companies are more tolerant of the issues that developing companies face than the Europeans or Americans? Anyway, substantial zinc projects are not easy to find. Gamsberg was too substantial for Anglo American when it looked at the viability of the mine 20 years ago, but zinc prices are more than three times what they were when Anglo owned Gamsberg. Naidoo, one of very few female CEOs in the mining industry, is pressing ahead with the project and said she’s on a mission to increase opportunities for women. She wants women to make up half of the mining workforce. Her advice to them: “Think as big as you can”.


Naidoo comes from Phoenix in KwaZulu-Natal and has a degree in chemical engineering and a certificate in finance and administration. She spent 16 years with Anglo American Group, starting at their platinum operations in Rustenburg as a process engineer and ending as CFO of the thermal coal division. She has three daughters.