Mr Milingo said the smelter shutdown was scheduled for October 11 but the process was brought forward to facilitate thorough maintenance.
“This year’s routine shutdown was scheduled for August but some of the spare parts had not arrived that’s why we moved it to September, and then finally we moved it to October 11. It was supposed to take place on October 11…This closure should not worry anyone at all because it is routine.”
When asked if the shutdown meant KCM employees would have to stop going to the mine, he said the mining company had other business units that required the workforce so no worker was expected to stay away.
“The smelter is but only one of our business units so we have got a…leach plant and so on and so forth. So the employees will still be required in terms of maintenance,” Mr Milingo said.
He also said a fault that developed on one of the furnaces was normal.
“It has happened before, and usually we just repair it and get back to running again…It is our interest to have KCM running optimally without any challenges,” said Mr Milingo.
And KCM Corporate Affairs general manager Eugene Chungu has stated that the fault happened ay Nchanga Smelter at around 06:00 hours of this morning that resulted in a run out of slag material, although no injury occurred.
“The incident occurred at the Cobalt Recovery Furnace of the Nchanga Smelter. The smelter had been scheduled to undergo a planned shutdown this Friday, which has now been brought forward by 48 hours,” Chungu stated.
Smelting and Refining Unit Head, Enock Mponda stated: “At around 06:00hrs, our engineers noticed elevated temperatures near the tapping area prior to the event. As per our risk-based emergency protocols, we ensured that all the people working in the area were evacuated, thus preventing any injuries. The slag runout was contained within the limited bunded area. Although there is a standby furnace which we could bring, online we have decided to bring forward the planned shutdown by 48 hours.”
The smelter normally undergoes a major shut down every two years and thus was scheduled for 2018 but was postponed to this year, according to Chungu, and the current shutdown is planned for a duration of 39 days.
“During this time, all operations at Konkola, Nchanga and Nampundwe Mines will continue to run normally. The Company is committed to ramping up operations at Konkola Underground and Nchanga Underground mines, and stabilize operations across the Company,” stated Chungu.