ABB has been awarded a five-year full service contract with Namibia Custom Smelters (NCS) to manage and improve all maintenance activities at NCS’s copper smelting and converting plant in northern Namibia. The full service total plant maintenance agreement included the transfer of NCS maintenance and reliability staff to ABB as of July 1, 2012.
ABB’s Full Service model, which encompasses the complete management and operation of a plant’s maintenance function, development and implementation of expert measures to improve productivity and equipment reliability, will be employed at NCS.
NCS is located in Tsumeb, Namibia, approximately 425 km north of the capital, Windhoek. The plant, which was commissioned in 1963, is owned by Dundee Precious Metals Inc. of Canada. It comprises two primary smelting furnaces, three converters, and has an annual production capacity of 200,000 metric tons of copper concentrate from the treatment of complex copper concentrates containing gold, silver and arsenic.
Dundee Precious Metals reported recently that a used oxygen plant, purchased in the first quarter of 2011, was shipped from North America to Namibia in November 2011 and arrived on site in the first quarter of 2012. The company expected this second oxygen plant to be commissioned before the end of 2012, which will increase the smelting capacity of the Ausmelt furnaces to 240,000 mt/y from its current capacity.
Total capital expenditures for 2012 at the smelter are projected to be approximately $60 million for environmental and plant optimizations projects, according to Dundee.
The smelter is one of only a few in the world that is able to treat arsenic-bearing copper concentrates. Both blister copper and arsenic trioxide are produced from the concentrates; the copper is then delivered to refineries for final processing, while the arsenic trioxide is sold to third party customers.
Under the service agreement, ABB will manage all maintenance to improve productivity and equipment reliability at the plant, and retain and develop all existing maintenance staff and management. In addition, ABB will provide process optimization, energy consulting and equipment lifecycle services at the site, as well as manage all third-party subcontractors and suppliers.
Hans Nolte, vice president and managing director, NCS, said, “As new state-of-the-art technology is introduced, highly skilled engineering staff will be required to maintain the smelter in the future. NCS is confident that ABB will apply best practices and transfer knowledge to Namibian employees who will benefit from this partnership in the long run.”