Lead ban lifted at Esperance Port

The Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation is satisfied that the Esperance Port Lead Removal Plan (LRP) has been completed, after it lifted a ban on lead carbonate shipping in place since April 2007.

The Department enacted a Section 73A notice on the port after dangerous emissions of lead carbonate concentrate dust were detected as the product was loaded onto ships in bulk.

Magellan Metals’ General Manager Corporate Social Responsibility Dr John Yeates told MINING DAILY the company was required to develop a new export process to remove the stockpiled lead.

“We had to place the lead in sealed bags under negative pressure and then place the bags inside containers,” he said.

“The bags and containers were then vacuumed to ensure there was no lead coming out. This was tested by the Department of Environment and Conservation.

According to Yeates, the process had to be completed with a negative pressure system because the lead was stockpiled in a shed on the wharf. This system also had to filter any lead before it reached the atmosphere.

“The emissions were being monitored outside the shed as well as in Esperance town and none of the lead got out,” he said.

“It took about three to four months to bag and containerise around 8000 tonnes of lead at Esperance. But this was in cramped conditions, so we’ll be able to do it faster in different environments.”

The company is now hoping to export out of Fremantle using the process after it restarts operations at its Wiluna Mine.

“In effect the operations at Esperance proved that the process works and is very safe,” Yeates said.

The lead will be bagged and containerised at the mine site and then transported by road and rail to Fremantle.”

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