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September-October 2012

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The Rosh Pinah Lead-Zinc Mine, Namibia

The Rosh Pinah mine is located in southern Namibia, 20 kilometers north of the Orange River border with South Africa, at the edge of the Namib Desert between Diamond Area No. 1 and the farms Namuskluft 88 and Spitzkop III. The mine is somewhat isolated, and in order to get to it, many hours need to be spent driving the roads in southern Namibia. The main access road branches off from the tarred road between Keetmanshoop and Lüderitz; from there the mine is 160 kilometers to the south. The town of Rosh Pinah lies along a major tourism route within the Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park (Warambwa and Mouton 2011). Employees of both the Rosh Pinah mine and the nearby Skorpion mine live in the town.

The Rosh Pinah is an underground mine operated by Rosh Pinah Zinc Corporation (Pty.) Ltd. (RPZC). It produces zinc and lead concentrates, with copper, silver, and gold as byproducts (Warambwa and Mouton 2011). The main orebody is located in Rosh Pinah Mountain (von Bezing, Bode, and Jahn 2007). The sulfides are concentrated by flotation, after which the lead and zinc concentrates are transported by road to Aus some 165 kilometers to the north. Zinc concentrate is also exported by rail to Zincor, a zinc smelter in South Africa, owned by Exxaro Resources Ltd., and lead concentrate is railed to the Walvis Bay Harbor in Namibia for export.

The name Rosh Pinah comes from the Hebrew, meaning “corner stone.” It is likely that the name was given by Moshe Eli Khan, founder of the company (Moly Copper Mining and Exploration) that discovered the deposit (von Bezing, Bode, and Jahn 2007).

Dr. Bruce Cairncross is head of the Department of Geology at the University of Johannesburg and a consulting editor of Rocks & Minerals. He has been collecting southern African minerals for more than thirty years and has published extensively on the subject.

Allan Fraser is a consulting analytical chemist. His area of interest is in the minerals of the Kalahari manganese field, the Phalaborwa Carbonatite, and other southern African localities. He also has a special interest in the minerals of Peru.

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