23 July 2010

Namibia: Copper Smelter Grows Bigger

Windhoek — Canadian mining company, Dundee Precious Metal, has today laid claim to the chimneys above the copper smelter in Tsumeb.

For the long-term survival of the smelter, Dundee Precious Metal is banking on refining materials from the neighbouring countries. There are also long-term plans to erect a side plant to supply acids to the country's booming uranium mining industry.

Namibia Custom Smelters is currently one of only four operating smelters in Africa, and the only one capable of treating complex concentrates.

Dundee Precious Metal bought the Namibia Customs Smelter from Weatherly Namibia for N$400 million early this year. Following the sale was the commissioning of an additional oxygen plant to double smelting capacity to 240 000 tonnes per annum.

The Tsumeb smelter's initial smelting capacity is 120 000 tonnes per year.

"This would allow the smelter to take in more and reduce input costs," Dundee Precious Metals' Director for Commercial Affairs, Jeremy Cooper, said when announcing the sale in early February this year.

President and Chief Executive Officer of Dundee Precious Metals Inc in Toronto, Canada, Jonathan Goodman, flew in to attend the inauguration with Prime Minister Nahas Angula.

Dundee Precious Metals bets that the ongoing upgrades at the smelter, and the strategic location of the smelter makes it ideal for refining materials from Botswana and Zambia, which border Namibia.

Tsumeb, situated in northern-central Namibia, has a road and rail link to the deepwater port of Walvis Bay, 500 km away. Tsumeb is also linked to Botswana and Zambia through a well-maintained road and rail infrastructure.

There is potential to clinch commercial deals with copper producers from the mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Tsumeb smelter previously treated material from Chambishi Copper Mines in Zambia.

The smelter will treat 120 000 tonnes of copper from Chilopech Mine, half its capacity and the remaining half will come from commercial contracts.

An additional, oxygen plant allows the smelter to take more concentrates at reduced unit costs. Dundee Precious Metals has linked its operations to a smelter, which can treats complex concentrates. Moreover, in the long-term, the company wants to add a sulphuric acid plant to supply the sulphuric acid to Namibia's booming uranium industry.

The sale of Namibia Customs Smelter to Dundee Precious Metal allowed the troubled Weatherly Mining Company to pay-off some of its debts and raise working capital for the re-opening of the mines.

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