Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb (Pty) Limited, is located in Tsumeb, Namibia approximately 430 km north of the capital city of Windhoek. Tsumeb is the closest town to the Etosha National Park and has a population of 14,000 people. The smelter was constructed in the early 1960’s to process concentrate from the Tsumeb copper mine and other mines in the country. It is linked by rail to the Atlantic port of Walvis Bay in Namibia. The facility consists of one Ausmelt TSL furnace, two Peirce Smith Converters, a sulphuric acid plant, a slag milling and flotation plant and an arsenic trioxide production plant. The smelter employs approximately 700 people.
The smelter is one of only a few in the world which is able to treat complex copper concentrates that contain arsenic and is therefore able to conclude long term favourable contracts to treat such concentrates. Blister copper, sulphuric acid and arsenic trioxide are smelter products. The blister copper is delivered to refineries in Europe and Asia for final processing to copper metal and the arsenic trioxide is sold to third party customers worldwide for wood treatment and pesticide chemicals production. Concentrates Sulphuric acid is sold to Namibian Customers in the Uranium and Copper production businesses.
The Tsumeb smelter produces a 98.5% pure copper blister, and with its ability to treat complex copper concentrates is transitioning from a captive smelter, receiving mainly DPM concentrates, to a toll treatment facility with brown-fields expansion potential.
In March 2010 we completed the acquisition of Namibia Custom Smelters (Pty) Ltd, a metals processing and smelting operation from Weatherly Mining International [plc.]. As part of the agreement to purchase NCS, Dundee Precious Metals has been provided with an indemnification with respect to specific matters, such as any environmental and license breaches or breaches of law that may exist up to the date of completion of the acquisition 24 March 2010.
Louis Dreyfus Commodities Metals Suisse SA has exclusive rights to purchase the Chelopech copper concentrate for toll processing through the smelter and an exclusive arrangement to supply further concentrate feed for toll processing at the smelter through to and including 2020. The arsenic trioxide and acid production are sold to third party customers by DPM.
Tsumeb Corporation Limited (TCL) commissioned the Tsumeb smelter plant in 1963 under American mining company, Newmont Mining Corporation. It featured an integrated copper and lead section (with refinery), and smaller plants that produced cadmium and arsenic trioxide as by-products. Production officially started in March 1964. At that stage, the smelter produced more than 3,500 tons of copper and 6,000 tons of lead per month. By 1986 the smelter was also producing sodium antimonite for export.
In 1988, TCL was taken over by Gold Fields South Africa and administered by Gold Fields Namibia ("GFN"). Approximately six years later, the Lead Smelter was closed permanently. In 1996, TCL’s mining and smelting operations came to a standstill following a prolonged labor strike. This ultimately led to the closure and liquidation of GFN in 1998. In March 2000, Namibia’s High Court accepted an offer by Ongopolo Mining and Processing Limited ("OMPL") to take over GFN’s mines, as well as the smelter plant in Tsumeb. From 2000 to 2008, only the copper section was operational; the arsenic plant was run on a small scale.
In July 2006 Weatherly Mining International acquired OMPL. In December 2008 Weatherly suspended all mining operations because of a major decline in the world copper price and only kept the Tsumeb smelter operational. The Smelter moved to treating custom concentrates at the beginning of 2009.
In March 2010, Weatherly sold the smelter to Dundee Precious Metals Inc. for N$33 million in cash and shares, with Weatherly retaining all mining assets.
Currently, less than half of the smelter’s business comes from our mine in Chelopech, Bulgaria. Additional business is solicited from Peru, Chile and Namibia.
The Top-Submerged Lance Ausmelt furnace was converted from a lead to a copper smelting vessel in 2010 and is the only primary smelting vessel after the decommissioning of the Reverberatory furnace in 2013. A new Oxygen Plant, commissioned in February 2014 to increase the efficiency of the furnace, delivers up to 405 tonnes of oxygen per day. This increase allowed the operating rates to move from 150,000t/a of concentrate to 240,000t/a with sufficient oxygen for an ultimate capacity of 370,000t/a, subject to additional plant changes.
A sulphuric acid plant was commissioned in 2015 and the sulphuric acid produced sold to Rossing Uranium and Tschudi Copper in Namibia. Two new Peirce Smith copper converters were commissioned in the first quarter of 2016. The new copper converters are fitted with tight sealing water cooled primary hooding as well as secondary hooding to minimize the uncontrolled release of fugitives gas containing SO2 to atmosphere. Both the off gas from the Ausmelt furnace and the Peirce Smith converters are to be treated in the sulphuric acid plant to remove sulphur dioxide from the off gas before the cleaned gas is vented to atmosphere.
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Dundee Precious Metals Inc. is a Canadian based, international gold mining company engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development, mining and processing of precious metals.