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MEI Online: Commodities: Metallic Ores: Platinum Group Metals: Latest News: June 12th 2003

:: Implats Opens R65m Sulfacid Plant  

Amid controversy around emissions emanating from certain South African platinum operations, the country's second-largest platinum producer Implats yesterday announced the official opening of a R65-million Sulfacid plant at its Rustenburg smelter operations.

The plant is designed to reduce the levels of sulphur dioxide in smelter gas, which is an important aspect of Impala's air quality management programme in North West Province.

Last month, certain media reports stated that platinum giant AngloPlatinum was not meeting environmental regulations and suggested that its projects designed to deal with air pollution were hitting snags.

The company denied the reports and said its converting plant, currently being commissioned, would go a long way in reducing emission levels.

At Implats, meanwhile, the Lurgi Metallurgie Sulfacid technology on which the plant is based, collects up to 80% of the sulphur dioxide in the electric smelter gas and converts it to sulphuric acid, which in turn can be used by other industries.

Extensive research was conducted into sulphur removal processes before the project was implemented in South Africa, and the technology selected is based on that used by the European paint pigment industry.

The company says that the plant, which has been operational since October 2002, has already reduced sulphur dioxide atmospheric pollutants by over 50%.

North West Premier Popo Molefe said: "While companies like Impala Platinum make a valuable contribution to the economy of this province, it is also important that they do not lose sight of their responsibilities to the communities and the environment in the region and so we acknowledge what the company is doing by implementing new technology to help improve air quality".

"Economic development is a cornerstone of growth, but should not come with an environmental cost.

"It is important that companies take steps to counter the negative consequences of their operations and Impala Platinum is to be commended for having a step in the right direction," said Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Rejoice Mabudafhasi said at the opening of the plant.



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