TWO employees from the Dundee Precious Metals smelter in Tsumeb are in hospital with serious injuries following an incident at the mine’s Ausmelt furnace.
Vice President and Managing Director of Dundee Precious Metals in Namibia, Zebra Kasete, said in a statement that the incident happened during a restart of the primary furnace after routine maintenance on 3 September.
The Ausmelt furnace is Dundee’s primary smelting operationand the furnace is used to melt down copper concentrate from Zambia and Bulgaria.
“Regrettably, injuries were sustained by two employees, both of whom are receiving appropriate care,” Kasete said.
According to Kasete, the company is providing support to the individuals that have been injured, and their families, to help them achieve a fast and full recovery.
Kasete further stated the cause of the incident and the extent of the damage are still under investigation and that the regulator aat the Ministry of Mines and Energy has been notified about it.
Kasete has urged the workforce to be vigilant in maintaining safe work practices.
“The health and safety of our employees and local communities is paramount, therefore, safety must remain everyone’s number one value”, said Kasete during the safety stand-down meetings he had with the entire workforce after the incident at the furnace.
Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb is one of the few operations in the world that can treat complex concentrate.
The smelter was constructed in the early 1960’s to process concentrate from the Tsumeb copper mine and other copper mines in the country and produces ingots of bliter copper that are exported for refinement.
A similar incident where one person sustained injuries occurred in 2016 after a regional power outage, followed by issues with emergency power backup systems, led to damage to the refractory lining of the Ausmelt furnace.
At the time the Ausmelt furnace was out of commission for about three weeks while repairs were conducted and upgrades were implemented.
The investigation after the 2016 incident identified a number of on-site opportunities that will mitigate risk associated with any potential future power interruptions. During the shutdown new generator controls were implemented, design improvements were made to the furnace roof, modifications were made to the cooling system to prevent water ingress into the furnace and site personnel received additional training to increase emergency preparedness.