Published:2012/07/18 06:56:40 AM
POWER and automation technology group ABB said yesterday that copper producer Namibia Custom Smelters had awarded it a five-year, full-service contract to manage and improve maintenance at a smelting and converting plant in northern Namibia.
Namibia Custom Smelters vice-president and MD Hans Nolte, said the contract would see ABB transfer skills to Namibians. "As new state-of-the-art technology is introduced, highly skilled engineering staff will be required to maintain the smelter in the future," Mr Nolte said.
The smelter was commissioned in 1963 in Tsumeb, about 425km north of Windhoek, to process concentrate from the Tsumeb copper mine.
The plant is one of only five commercial-scale smelters in Africa. It is linked by rail to the Atlantic port of Walvis Bay.
Namibia Custom Smelters is owned by Canadian mining company Dundee Precious Metals.
It consists of two primary smelting furnaces, three converters, and has an annual production capacity of 200000 tons of copper concentrate from the treatment of complex copper concentrates containing gold, silver and arsenic.
The smelter is one of only a few in the world that have the capacity to treat arsenic-bearing copper concentrates.
Blister copper and arsenic trioxide were produced from the concentrates and the copper was then delivered to refineries for final processing, while the arsenic trioxide was sold to third-party customers, ABB said.
Vad är då bakgrunden till att vi här har något så ovanligt som en guldproducent som även smälter sin egen metall?
I guld och kopparmalm så finns det ofta varierande grad av arsenik som bi-produkt (det har t.ex även Orvana i Spanien) och i en värld av enorma smältverk som jobbar mot allt lägre utsläpp så behövs det små specialicerade enheter som kan ta hand om just den malmen i en process som just handlar om att ha fullt fokus på säker hantering av arsenik på ett sätt som de stora "bulksmältverken" inte kan ha. Eftersom det fanns brist på effektiva sådana smältverk så bestämde sig Dundee för att köpa och modernisera ett av dessa nedgångna gamla smältverk och även om huvudorsaken var att kunna smälta sitt eget koncentrat så kommer har dom och kommer dom även kunna hantera arsenikhaltigt material från andra gruvor på ett miljömässigt överlägset sätt när moderniseringen är fullt genomförd.
Från bolagets hemsida ytterligare historik:
The smelter is one of only a few in the world which is able to treat arsenic and lead bearing copper concentrates and is therefore able to conclude long term favourable contracts to treat such concentrates. Both blister copper and arsenic trioxide (As2O3) are produced from the concentrates.
The blister copper is delivered to refineries for final processing and the As2O3 is sold to third party customers.
- The completion of infrastructure improvement projects, most of which have and will improve environmental performance as specific outcomes.
- construction of an on-site hazardous waste disposal facility (one of only very few in Namibia);
- installation of new, technically current baghouses to reduce airborne emissions;
- development of fume extraction systems at copper tapping points; and
- upgrade of product conveyor systems to minimize dust generation.
- Initial discussions with WWF Namibia regarding corporate partnership models to support conservation projects in Namibia’s north (the Otjituuo & King Nehale conservancies are the closest to NCS);
- The establishment of an NCS Environmental Department and the purchase of sophisticated air and water sampling equipment for measured metrics such as SO2, fall out dust, total suspended particulates, arsenic and lead;
- The purchase of dust vacuuming and suppression vehicles for dedicated use on the NCS site to more effectively manage dust and its impact on the community;
- The repair and rehabilitation of historical and current tailings facilities;
- The rehabilitation and decontamination of historic facilities such as the tar pit site;
- The assessment and development of a comprehensive site water management system which may include canal lining and dilution facilities; and
- Detailed feasibility studies into the possibility of installing sulphur capturing facilities to reduce SO2 emissions and improve environmental performance.
- The establishment of community trust to be funded by NCS aimed at providing financial support for educational, health, social welfare and environmental projects in the broader Tsumeb area. Potential projects of interest include HIV/AIDS community support training and education enhancement projects;
- The establishment of a Public Relations Department to work closely with NCS’s Environmental Department to ensure enhanced and transparent communication with NCS stakeholders and the broader public.
- New and modified biological testing procedures and protocols to insure employee health and wellbeing and the installation of best practice medical surveillance software to track and comprehensively monitor employee health.