Possible smelter changes at Dundee
The recently commissioned Dundee Precious Smelter in Tsumeb may undergo a significant change in the near future, with plans in place to increase the size of the smelter. This is what the Economist was able to establish when it recently contacted, Dundee spokesperson, Alina Garises, to gain clarity on the matter.
Garises explained that Dundee Precious was still in the preliminary stages of an anticipated expansion project and that a final decision is still to be made.
“We are in the preliminary stages of this project. No final decision to expand has been made and no final decision on an expansion can be made until the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process is complete and the final report issued. Therefore, we are not in a position to provide additional details on the proposal such as anticipated cost, potential new employment and time frames for the possible completion of the project,” she added.
Based on a throughput of 240 000 to 310 000 tons of copper concentrate, the N$2.7 billion smelter produces between 270 000 to 340 000 of sulphuric acid yearly. With the change in the plant set-up, the smelter’s ability to recover copper is expected to improve.
“Currently, the Ausmelt furnace and its lack of holding capacity has created a bottle neck in production. Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb proposes to upgrade the Ausmelt feed system and furnace, install a rotary holding furnace, implement a slow cooling system and upgrade the slag mill to improve copper recovery,” said Garises.
“The plant is designed to capture off-gases that are rich in sulphur dioxide from copper smelting and to convert them into sulphuric acid. The plant is an effort to eliminate sulphur dioxide emissions that have plagued Tsumeb residents since the smelter opened in 1963,” she explained.
Dundee Precious has previously stated that it has spent upwards of N$5 billion on the smelter in an effort to make it environmentally friendly as possible and the planned expansion will no doubt add to that figure.