Acid plant set for commissioning

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TSUMEB – The N$2.7 billion gas-cleaning and sulphuric acid plant that has steadily been taking shape at the Tsumeb smelter is set for commissioning soon.

The sulphuric acid plant that has been under consutruction for the last 18 months is due for commissioning in June, spokesperson at Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb, Alina Garises confirmed.

The plant is in the final stages of construction and this investment is among the biggest in the mining sector.
Garises said that the plant is almost complete and it is only the finishing touches and the last minute checks left. “While hundreds of workers are applying finishing touches to all the structural and mechanical aspects of the project, scores of others are focused on installing the last electrical components, cable racks, electronic-monitoring systems and power connections so that pre-commissioning checks can begin,” she said.

Meanwhile, civil construction is progressing well for the installation of two new Peirce-Smith converters, which on completion will tie into the acid plant project.

A converter is a large cylindrical furnace that transforms molten copper matte into blister copper.
The moving of the converter shells to the converter aisle will take place this month and installation will only commence by June. Garises also confirmed that the commissioning of the converters is planned for between November and December this year.

According to Garises, the gas-cleaning/sulphuric acid plant project is aimed at eliminating problematic sulphur dioxide gas that is released during the copper-smelting process.

“From an environmental perspective, the plant will solve the issue of sulphur dioxide emissions that have plagued Tsumeb residents since the smelter opened in 1963. Once operational, the plant will capture and convert sulphur dioxide into sulphuric acid, which will be sold to Namibia’s uranium mines for use in their production processes,” she said.

The high-tech plant will be capable of producing between 270 000 and 340 000 tonnes of acid annually.

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