MAC: Mines and Communities

Critical safety issues face Nyrstar, after Peruvian takeover

Published by MAC on 2009-10-13

In July 2008, Peruvian citizens were alerted to a possible tailings dam collapse at Gold Hawk's Coricancha mine. Such an event would jeopardise water supplies for the capital, Lima.

For the time being such a disaster seems to have been averted - but for how long? See:

A fortnight ago, control of Coricancha was secured by Belgium's Nyrstar NV, the world's largest zinc smelter.

A week later, an Australian trade union asked for a government investigation into Nyrstar's parlous safety record at one of its smelters, following one fatality and a series of recent safety-related "incidents".


Nyrstar to Buy Peruvian Zinc Mine for $15 Million

by Andrew Clapham and Firat Kayakiran, Bloomberg

1 October 2009

Nyrstar NV, the world's largest zinc smelter, agreed to acquire a Peruvian mine for $15 million, the latest deal in its strategy to secure raw-material supplies.

The zinc producer will pay Gold Hawk Resources Inc., a Canadian mining exploration company, in cash for 85 percent of the Coricancha mine, Balen, Belgium-based Nyrstar said today in a statement. Gold Hawk will hold 15 percent of the mine, which has a plant capable of producing 600 metric tons of ore a day.

Nyrstar, formed in a 2007 merger of the smelting assets of mining company Zinifex Ltd. and metals recycler Umicore SA, said in June it planned to expand into mining to secure raw-material supplies. The company said Sept. 28 it agreed to buy a 19.9 percent stake in Australian mining company Ironbark Gold Ltd. for about 3.5 million euros ($5.1 million).

Nyrstar is planning to recommence operations at Coricancha, which were suspended in May last year, and produce 20,000 dry metric tons a year of zinc concentrate, 15,000 dry metric tons of lead concentrate and 45,000 ounces of gold. Concentrate is a form of raw material shipped to smelters.

The mine hasn't been expanded due to limited access to capital, Nyrstar said.

Call for zinc smelter safety inquiry

ABC, Australia

8 October 2009

The union representing workers at Nyrstar's Hobart zinc smelter wants the state government to intervene after a series of workplace accidents, and one recent death.

The Construction, Forestry Mining and Energy Union says a 52-year-old maintenance worker died a month ago and 650 safety incidents were reported at the plant in the 12 months to January.

The Union's Marshall Reeves says Workplace Standards is under-resourced, and the government needs to conduct an inquiry into safety at the smelter.

Mr Reeves says most incidents are of a similar nature and can be avoided.

"Most of the injuries seem to be coming from the cell room which is the oldest part of the plant and it's heavy manual labor," he said.

"So a lot of them seem to be soft tissue issues, back injuries, shoulder injuries.

"At one stage in the cell room, there were 17 employees on workers comp."

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