Acid Plant Near Completion

Construction of an acid plant at Namibia Customs Smelter in Tsumeb is almost complete, and the plant is scheduled for commissioning towards the end of this year.

The acid plant is expected to eliminate the problematic sulphur dioxide gas, released during the process of smelting copper that has caused health problems in the town over the past decades.

“Once completed, the plant will capture and convert sulphur dioxide into a value-added product, namely sulphuric acid, which will be sold to Namibia’s uranium mines for use in their production processes. Currently, these companies import sulphuric acid from abroad.

The new plant will be capable of producing between 270 000 and 340 000 tonnes of acid annually,” said Jim Castellic, the spokesperson for the Namibia Customs Smelter.

Namibia Customs Smelter is owned by the Canadian mining company, Dundee Precious Metals. Companies contracted to construct the US$167 million (about N$1.95 billion at current exchange rate) acid plant have employed 1 800 people since the commencement of construction in early 2013.

Contractors at the mine have started to lay off the 1 800 temporary workers whose contracts to work at the plant have since expired.

The acid plant is a response to a directive from the Namibian government, after extensive environment and health inspections between 2011 and 2012, found that acidic and toxic gases from the smelter have affected vegetations as well as human health in the town.

In 2012, the government mandated the Namibia Customs Smelter to improve off-gas capture and workplace conditions at the smelter.

The sulphuric acid plant will process off-gas from the smelter and the acid produced will be sold into the market through off-take agreements. The smelter has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Protea Chemicals Namibia, a subsidiary of Omnia Group, and a leading industrial chemicals company with significant presence in Sub-Saharan Africa, to assist with the marketing and sale of the acid.

Meanwhile, Civil Construction has started installing two new Peirce-Smith converters, which, upon completion, will tie into the acid plant project.

Castellic said converter shells will be moved to the converter aisle in April this year, and installation will commence by June.

Source : New Era