PERTH, Nov. 18 -- China Minmetals Corp., the nation's largest metals trader, has exhausted stockpiles and halted shipments of concentrate from its zinc mine in Australia pending repairs to a damaged pipeline.
"We've now completed shipping of all the zinc concentrate stocks that were stored," Sally Cox, a spokeswoman for Minmetals' Melbourne-based unit MMG, said today by phone. The Century mine in northern Australia is the world's second-largest open-pit zinc mine.
Customers including Nyrstar NV, the world's largest smelter of zinc, "will be sourcing alternative concentrate for the interim period, but we obviously expect to recommence shipping concentrate to those customers again," she said. Concentrate production at Century in Queensland state has been suspended since the pipeline ruptured on Oct. 5 when there was 70,000 tons of concentrate stockpiled at the port.
"We've been in ongoing contact with the customers since this happened," Cox said, declining to comment on whether the company had declared force majeure on shipments. "We are confident they will want to take up the stock again once we are able to supply it."
A bypass pipeline is likely to be connected to the main pipeline by the end of this week and will be tested with water before restarting concentrate production, Cox said.
The mine produced 158,603 tons of zinc concentrate in the September quarter, MMG said Oct. 26. Force majeure is a legal clause that allows a company to miss deliveries because of circumstances beyond its control.