MOPANI Copper Mines (MCM)’s Mufulira smelter upgrade project at a cost of US$460 million is earmarked for completion by end of first quarter 2014.
The upgrading of the smelter involving installation of three converters and construction of two acid plants executed under a three-phased programme beginning 2004, once completed is expected to bring to an end the problem of sulphur-dioxide emission that has been a thorn issue in the district.
MCM chief operating officer Johan Jansen said once commissioned, the refurbished Mufulira smelter would vent out three per cent of the sulphur dioxide emission into the atmosphere, which was world standard.
Mr Jansen said this when he gave a presentation on MCM operations and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes during an interactive meeting dubbed “Non-Governmental Oarganisations forum” with a consortium of Mufulira-based civil society organisations (CSOs) held in Mufulira on Wednesday.
He said the Mufulira smelter at its inception in 1937 when technology was viewed as cutting edge was venting out 100 sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere.
“When we took over running of the mine, we committed ourselves to reduce the emission of sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere to world standard and to that effect we embarked on a three-phased programme in 2004,” he said.
Mr Jansen said following the first and second phase upgrade exercise conducted between 2004-07 and 2007-9 respectively, the smelter plant was now capturing between 50 and 55 per cent sulphur-dioxide emissions.
He said the third-phase of the upgrade project, which under the initial commitment was scheduled to complete by 2015 but had been fast-trucked and was now set to be completed by end of first quarter 2014, 97 per cent of the sulphur-dioxide emission would be captured.
“The problem of sulphur-dioxide will have been addressed because emission of three per cent into the atmosphere is world standard,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Jansen said MCM was investing $12 million into a new skills school for training of artisan engineers.
He said the school to be built with a capacity of 140nstudents per intake was earmarked for opening in 2014.
And CSOs regional coordinator Edward Lange expressed happiness with MCM for its effort in contributing to improved wellbeing of the communities through its programmes in health, education and sport.
Mr Lange described the interactive meeting as positive as it was aimed at creating a platform of engagement between the mining firm and CSOs in a quest to improve accountability in the mining sector.