Tsumeb Smelter's sulphuric acid plant progressing well

15 Oct 2013 10:20am
WINDHOEK, 15 OCT (NAMPA) – The sulphuric acid plant at the Tsumeb Smelter project is progressing well, with engineering works about 60 per cent completed.
The earthworks’ component of construction is also finished, and all long-lead items having been purchased too.
“The installation of the acid plant is expected to complete our major environmental upgrades at the smelter and our obligations to the government, thereby minimizing the environmental and political risks to the smelter,” Dundee Precious Metals’ (DPM) President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Howes said in a media statement recently.
In addition, the key aspects of the plant upgrades, which address smelter fugitive emissions are complete, and the second oxygen plant, which allows for increased, cleaner production is expected to be producing oxygen by the end of October, he added.
Howes said the company expects the government to then be in a position to confirm compliance with its directive and workplace air quality standards, and support a return to full production.
In March 2010, DPM completed the acquisition of Namibia Customs Smelters, a smelter that was constructed in the early 1960s’ to process concentrate from the Tsumeb copper mine, and is one of only five commercial-scale smelters in Africa.
As part of its long-term strategy to bring the Tsumeb Smelter to internationally-accepted environmental standards and consistent with directives issued by the Namibian Government, DPM entered into a lump-sum turnkey (LSTK) contract with Outotec for the engineering, supply, construction and commissioning of a facility to treat smelter off-gas and produce sulphuric acid.
Outotec Namibia provides leading technologies and services for the sustainable use of earth’s natural resources, while also providing innovative solutions for industrial water treatment, the utilisation of alternative energy sources and the chemical industry.
At this stage, the total capital cost to complete the acid plant currently under construction, including owner's costs, is estimated at US dollars 240 million (about N.dollars 2.4 billion), up from the initial estimate of US dollars 204 million (about N.dollars 2 billion).
Howes noted that this increase is primarily attributable to higher-than- expected costs associated with site preparation, including demolition, earthworks’ excavation, foundation preparation, larger construction camp infrastructure and related operating costs, unanticipated expenses relating to the removal of asbestos encountered during demolition, and a stronger Euro currency.
None of these issues have put the project schedule at risk, and it remains on track for commercial operations and acid deliveries to commence in the fourth quarter of 2014, as agreed with the Namibian Government.
Meanwhile, the company reported early last month that the smelter production for August and September has been running at approximately 16,500 tonnes per month. This was lower than expected due to delays associated with the construction of the second oxygen plant.
As a result, the commissioning of the oxygen plant is now expected to be completed in October 2013, after which the smelter will ramp up to its full operating capacity and is expected to average approximately 21,500 tonnes per month for the balance of the year in advance of emissions’ testing.
For 2013, DPM expects Tsumeb Smelters’ concentrate throughput to be between 172 000 and 178 000 tonnes, down from previous guidance of 185 000 to 200 000 tonnes.
DPM indicated that while the smelter’s production ramp-up has been slower than expected, the improvements made over the past year have significantly reduced fugitive emissions at and around the smelter, and are expected to result in the Namibian Government’s production curtailment being lifted in the fourth quarter of 2013 in support of this production schedule.
DPM is a Canadian-based, international gold-mining company engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development, mining and processing of precious metals.