DUNDEE Precious Metals (DPC), owner of Namibia Customs Smelters, are going to invest about N$1,3 billion in a sulphuric acid plant at the Tsumeb smelter to meet international environmental standards.
DPM yesterday announced that its feasibility study on the plant is finished and that its board has given the go-ahead for the project, subject to final cost estimates and commercial arrangements that provide for acceptable economics and the long-term marketing of the acid produced.
The acid plant is the preferred option to capture sulphur from emissions at the smelter, DCP said.
Environment and Tourism Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah in April told NCS to cut its monthly copper production from 18 000 tons to 7 000 tons following a preliminary report which showed that the uptake of arsenic at the smelter was excessive and posed a serious health risk to many workers. Cabinet subsequently instructed NCS to upgrade its systems.
The Minister, satisfied with upgrades made in the meantime, recently allowed NCS to up its production to 14 000 tons again.
"The construction of an acid plant is the final step in converting our smelter in Namibia to a facility that will operate at international environmental standards", DPM president and chief executive officer Jonathan Goodman said in a statement yesterday.
The first phase of the project, comprising basic engineering, site preparation, final costing and detailed scheduling, has been awarded to Outotec, the global leader in sulphuric acid plant design and delivery.
Once completed, DPM will enter into a definitive engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract, including a turnkey contract relating to the construction of the acid plant, the statement said. This should take place in the fourth quarter this year.
DPM said based on an expected annual smelter production capacity of 240 000 to 310 000 tons of concentrate, the acid plant will produce in the range of 270 000 340 000 tons of sulphuric acid. Commissioning is expected to take place during the third quarter of 2014.
The plant will process off-gas from the smelter and the acid produced will be sold into the market through off-take agreements, DPM said.
NCS has already 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.