Acid plant shutdown sees increased smelter emissions

The extended closure of Incitec Pivot’s acid plant in Queensland has resulted in Xstrata’s copper smelter’s increasing sulphur dioxide emission levels.

The acid plant near Mount Isa previously took around 80% of the Mount Isa Mines’ smelter’s byproducts and emissions to create sulphuric acid for fertilisers, the North West Star reports.

However since its shut down the smelter’s emissions are all released via the stack.

"During the shut down maintenance period of Incitec Pivot Limited, 100 per cent of our sulphur dioxide is sent through to our copper stack," an Xstrata spokesperson explained.

She went on to stress that the increased emissions would not reach harmful levels.

"During the shutdown of the acid plant, Xstrata Mount Isa Mines will continue to operate its smelters in accordance with procedures undertaken by its air quality control system, which is the most intensive air quality monitoring system of any city in Australia," she said.

"The air quality control system in Mount Isa directs the smelters to shut down if unfavourable wind conditions blow smelter emissions eastwards towards town and they impact the local community."

Incitec Pivot, the fertiliser and explosives manufacturer, was forced to shut down the plant for maintenance however it will be operational once more in the coming weeks.

In September last year, Incitec announced that it would build a $400 million acid plant at Phosphate Hill, south east of Djarra, in Queensland.

The potential plant will replace the void left after Xstrata closes its copper refinery in 2016.

The manufacturer would use sulphur dioxide from the copper smelter at its acid plant.

Gerrish Burstow, Incitec Pivot’s Phosphate Hill and Mount Isa operations manager, said they are working through the feasibility stages at the moment.


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