January 5, 2023: Nyrstar is restarting its Port Pirie lead smelter in South Australia following a planned 55-day outage, BESB has learned.
The shutdown, which began last October, was part of an AUD45 million ($28 million) works and maintenance programme — focused on rebricking the hearth of the top submerged lance furnace, as well as major capital works in the blast furnace, acid plant and across the site.
A Nyrstar spokesperson told BESB on January 4 that the plant was restarting production, having concluded work to “further support improvement of Port Pirie’s emissions and operational performance”.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson confirmed the start of “early works” on its product recycling facility (see image) at Port Pirie aimed at further reducing lead in air concentrations.
Once completed, the facility will be sealed and under negative air pressure, allowing intermediate materials used in the production process to be stored and mixed in an enclosed facility.
The facility will be built near existing processing plants to “reduce the handling and transport of materials in the open air”, Nyrstar said.
South Australia’s state government is contributing AUD7 million to the AUD23 million project.
Port Pirie general manager Mat Lynn said: “Nyrstar Australia will continue to 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.”
In June 2020, Port Pirie 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.
The Port Pirie smelter has been in continuous operation for more than 130 years on the Port Pirie river, 230km north of Adelaide. The plant is one of the world’s largest multi-metal smelters, producing lead, silver and by-products such as sulphuric acid.