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Canadian miner achieves record smelter production

Canada-based international gold mining company Dundee Precious Metals’ (DPM’s) Tsumeb copper smelter, in Tsumeb, Namibia, achieved record smelting production December, with quarterly concentrate production also at a record high of 61 270 t, DPM said when it announced its mine and smelter production results for the three months and year ended December 31.

The complex concentrate processing facility produced 200 000 t for the year, achieving its updated 2016 guidance of between 195 000 t and 205 000 t which was issued on November 8.

The guidance was reduced from between 215 000 t and 250 000 t, because of the collective impact of ongoing converter optimisation after commissioning, converter refractory repair and the furnace shutdown in late July 2016 following a Namibia-wide power outage that led to an additional rebricking of the furnace.

DPM says these results demonstrate the potential for improved operational performance at Tsumeb as a result of ongoing optimisation.

“Our focus remains on optimising and stabilising smelter performance and successfully executing our growth plans,” DPM president and CEO Rick Howes said in a statement in January.

DPM Tsumeb owns and operates the concentrate processing facility.

The Tsumeb smelter produces a 98.5% pure copper blister and, because of its ability to treat complex copper concentrates, is transitioning from a captive smelter, receiving mainly DPM concentrates, to a toll treatment facility with brownfield expansion potential, DPM explains on its website.

Currently, a little less than half of the smelter’s business comes from DPM’s Chelopech mine, in Bulgaria.

Additional business is solicited from Peru, Chile and Namibia.

The smelter, which employs about 700 people, is one of only a few in the world able to treat complex copper concentrates that contain arsenic and is, therefore, able to conclude long-term favourable contracts to treat such concentrates, notes DPM.

Tsumeb produces blister copper, sulphuric acid and arsenic trioxide. The blister copper is delivered to refineries in Europe and Asia for final processing into copper metal and the arsenic trioxide is sold to third-party customers worldwide for wood treatment and pesticide chemicals production.

Concentrated sulphuric acid is sold to Namibian customers in the uranium and copper production businesses.

The smelter was constructed in the early 1960s to process concentrate from the Tsumeb copper mine and other mines in the country, and is linked by rail to the Atlantic port of Walvis Bay.

The facility consists of one Ausmelt top submerged lancing furnace, two Peirce Smith converters, a sulphuric acid plant, a slag milling and flotation plant and an arsenic trioxide production plant.

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