Swedish miner Boliden (STO: BOL) said on Wednesday it had halted production at its Tara mine in Ireland, Europe’s largest zinc mine, due to increased water flows into the operation.
Water began flooding the underground mine as a crew was drilling a pilot raisbore hole for a ventilation shaft.
Inflow volumes are exceeding the capacity of the dewatering infrastructure, the company said, adding it was unclear for how long production will be stopped.
In 2020, the Tara mine produced 127,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate and 14,000 tonnes of lead concentrate.
The news boosted zinc prices 2.2% to 3,420 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange. On Tuesday, the metal had recorded the biggest gain in a month as Glencore (LON: GLEN) announced it was preparing to shut down production in Italy.
Zinc production had already been hit by supply cuts announced by Trafigura, Nyrstar and Glencore, which sent prices up 13% in October.
Global zinc production is estimated at about 14 million tonnes this year, with about half of that expected to come from China, the world’s largest producer.
The metal is mainly used to galvanize steel or iron by applying a zinc coating to stop rusting. Galvanized steel is used in buildings, cars and electronics.