November 18, 2021: A new enclosed product recycling facility at the Port Pirie smelter in south Australia will reduce lead in air concentrations around the site, owner Nyrstar announced on November 12.
The facility will be sealed under negative air pressure, the company says, with materials used in the production process to be stored and mixed in an enclosed area, ‘thereby reducing the potential for losses of lead-bearing dust to the atmosphere from the plant’.
Because it will be built adjacent to existing processing plants, there will be less handling and transport of materials in the open air.
Nyrstar vice president of Australian operations Dale Webb said the facility would mean a reduction of lead in air of up to 25%. It is expected to be completed in the second half of 2024.
Nyrstar has received media attention several times over the past couple of years.
In June 2019, a series of unplanned outages at the smelter caused lead prices to soar by about $250 per tonne.
It June 2020 it signed a new licence agreement with Australia’s Environment Protection Authority to cap emissions by 20% as well as submit a comprehensive lead monitoring plan.
In June 2021, it accepted responsibility for a January 2019 sulfuric acid leak that had seeped into waterways near the site.
The new improvements, construction of which will begin early next year, are being part funded by the South Australian government.
“The investment that Nyrstar Australia is making will act to improve both the environmental and operational performance of our Port Pirie plant, and we welcome the state government’s support for this important project,” said Webb.
“Nyrstar Australia will focus on how we can continue to improve our operations to reduce lead in air concentrations and complement the Targeted Lead Abatement Program and actions of the state government, Port Pirie Regional Council and people of Port Pirie to reduce lead levels within the local community.”