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Oxygen plant to enhance production at Tsumeb Smelter

The largest oxygen-producing plant in Namibia, procured recently by Namibia Custom Smelters to enhance production capability and improve environmental conditions at the Tsumeb Smelter, arrived today on Thursday Walvis Bay after being shipped from the United States.
Once it is installed, refurbished and commissioned, the multimillion-dollar plant will be able to produce 450 tons of gaseous oxygen per day for the Smelter’s primary furnace, better known as the Ausmelt. This will augment the 190 tons of oxygen already being produced daily by NCS’ existing oxygen plant which was commissioned in 2010 in partnership with Air Liquide Namibia. The incoming plant is approximately three times bigger than the existing plant.
“This is a landmark development in our drive to upgrade the Tsumeb Smelter,” said NCS general manager, Hans Nolte. “By adding a second oxygen-producing facility we will be able to smelt all concentrate received in the most environmentally responsible manner using the best practices of the international smelting industry. Plus it will increase the capability of the Ausmelt so eventually it can become our only smelting furnace and allow us to convert the old reverberatory furnace, which is responsible for most roof-level emissions, into a holding furnace.
“This is further proof that our parent body, Dundee Precious Metals, is committed to making long-overdue improvements to our operations. It’s visual evidence that Dundee is spending millions to make the Tsumeb Smelter a world-class operation,” Nolte said.
The oxygen plant was purchased last year through JPS Cryogenics Inc. of New Jersey, USA, after being sourced from an operation in El Paso, Texas, that is now closed. During the last several months it was dismantled and prepared for shipping to Namibia. The plant will be re-erected at the Tsumeb Smelter and commissioned later this year.
The total cost of procurement, installation and refurbishment of the plant stands at N$130 million.
Plant structures and equipment will be off-loaded at the Walvis Bay port and then transported to Tsumeb by a convoy of heavy-duty lorries escorted by tender vehicles with flashing lights. The first five trucks carrying more than 300 tons of components – including a 27-meter-long, 70-ton oxygen tank, cold boxes and a cooling tower – are scheduled to arrive at the Smelter complex on 8 February.
Thereafter a convoy of eight containerised vehicles will shuttle continuously between Walvis Bay and Tsumeb for 17 days to bring in an additional 100 tons of plant equipment.
The new plant will be put up alongside NCS’ existing oxygen plant, the foundation for which is nearing completion. The two plants will run independently for about three years; afterwards they will be operated as one plant.
According to Nolte, this is the second item of major equipment to arrive at the Tsumeb Smelter to improve existing plant infrastructure, the first item being a state-of-the-art replacement baghouse to treat fumes from the Ausmelt furnace.
“Throughout 2012 there will be more equipment delivered, installed and commissioned at NCS,” Nolte said. “For this work we have maximised the use of Namibian suppliers, fabricators and construction contractors.”
JPS Cyrogenics Inc. will commission the plant on 5 November. The plant will be operated by Air Liquide Namibia.
The project is under the direction of Dundee’s Rob Taylor, with Geoff Gardner as NCS project manager. The erection phase will be overseen by SNC-Lavalin construction manager, Leon Cloete. The transportation of plant structures and equipment, as well as heavy-lifting duties, will be handled by Vanguard of South Africa.
Custom-designed safety and security procedures will be instituted by NCS for all aspects of the project.

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