The BCL has been operating for a month now without a smelter as it has been offline for 35 days since the 1st of July due to remedial work that was carried out on it.
The shutdown, according to the company, has been necessitated for the removal of build-up in the furnace, uptake shaft shell and quadrants refractory repairs, WHB throat tubing inspections and repairs, front wall re-alignment and to carry out the statutory recertification of the boiler and reparation of both the Niro Spray Drier and WHB dust capture electrostatic precipitators.
Chairman of the BCL Board, Dr Akolang Tombale last week told the media that during the shutdown, the concentrator was afforded a week’s planned shutdown to install a new and robust crusher feeder unit and carry out outstanding maintenance work in the crushing and floatation infrastructure and slurry thickening unit operations, with minimal constraints to the continuous mining operations.
“These maintenance activities were carried in order to ensure online operational reliability of both the concentrator and the downstream smelter unit operations. The entire stockpiled material during these outages, inclusive of the tolling concentrate obligations, will be dully reprocessed by year end,” Dr Tombale said in his statement.
He said the smelter, which is in its 10th year of the 7th furnace campaign life, is due for a two months major technical overhaul next year starting July. “These design options are currently being undertaken in collaboration with OEM Outotec of Finland. Further feasibilities studies on sulphur capture and abatement trade off options are vigorously being pursued, which if implemented will position the smelter as a green and complaint metallurgical processing unit,” he said.
Tombale said all the current and future technological developments and improvements in the process efficiencies in the BCL smelter, coupled with the synergistic acquisition of adjacent and remote prospective nickel mining rights and sourcing of toll concentrates, will position the BCL smelter as a premier nickel tolling in Africa.
The BCL mine smelter has previously experienced shutdowns, which have not only impacted on the mine production, but also other companies doing business with BCL.