New Indian owners, Vedanta Resources, have bought the Tipperary zinc mine along with other bigger mines in South Africa and Namibia from previous owners Anglo American Zinc as part of a €1.34bn deal, which estimated Lisheen’s value at $308m (€242m).
Vedanta won out in a bidding war with Anglo- Swiss mining group Xstrata and China Metallurgical.
However, London analysts were yesterday speculating that FTSE-listed Vedanta could seek to sell on Lisheen quickly.
One possible buyer mentioned is mining rival Xstrata, which has a joint lead and zinc venture with Minco at Pallasgreen, on the border between counties Limerick and Tipperary.
Several of Lisheen’s 370 workers have also aired concerns for the eco-sensitive nature of the Tipperary site.
“The life of the mine is finite,” said one Lisheen worker. “The plan is to mine at Lisheen until 2013 and then begin to close it down.
“After Irish Steel, Lisheen is Ireland’s next most eco-sensitive mining site. We would like to hear that our new owners have plans to protect the local environment.”
The environmental fears of Lisheen workers were aggravated when Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal told reporters at a press conference in London that the company is looking at “debottlenecking” opportunities to cut costs at Anglo American Zinc’s assets.
The relevant managers at Lisheen Mine in Tipperary and at Vedanta’s offices in London and Bombay were not available for comment.