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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Middle East & Asia: September 10th 2009


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:: China's Top Zinc Miner to Double Lead Smelting Capacity

Zhuzhou Smelter, the top zinc producer in China, will double its lead capacity with a 100,000 tonne-a-year smelter it plans to start building by the end of the year, a trade executive said.

Zhuzhou needs the new lead capacity to digest its rising residues from zinc smelting, a way to reduce pollution, Wang Jianjun, managing director at Zhuzhou's international trade unit, said in an interview in Lanzhou. Zinc and lead commonly co-exist in concentrate.

"We need to match our rising zinc capacity, which is producing more residues," said Wang, interviewed by Reuters late on Wednesday on the sidelines of a lead and zinc conference in Lanzhou in Gansu province.

The company operates half a million tonnes of zinc capacity in Hunan province, where authorities recently shut a number of small smelters after cases involving lead poisoning of children.

Beijing, which aims to close 600,000 tonnes of outdated lead smelting capacity in the next few years, is set to tighten controls over lead smelting following lead poisoning cases in Shaanxi and Hunan provinces.

After the completion of the new lead smelter, the firm is likely to start upgrading plan its existing 100,000-tonne-a-year lead plant to help meet the nation's higher environmental protection standards, Wang said.

Zhuzhou has started production at a new 100,000 tonne-a-year zinc facility and that facility may reach full production rates by the end of the year, boosting zinc production to 500,000 tonnes next year, Wang said.

"Our concentrate imports may rise above 200,000 tonnes of zinc in concentrates next year," he said, adding this year's imports were 100,000-200,000 tonnes of zinc in concentrate.

A Pakistan lead and zinc mine, which is 33 percent owned by Zhuzhou's parent, will load the first concentrate shipment to Zhuzhou this month. The shipment will have 3,000-4,000 tonnes of concentrate, Wang said.

The mine in Pakistan is set to produce 50,000 tonnes of zinc in concentrate and 25,000-30,000 tonnes of lead in concentrate a year. Zhuzhou is given the right to buy the mine's production before other buyers at market prices.

"It is not helping a lot to meet our concentrate needs, but at least we have one more choice on concentrate buying," Wang added. (Editing by Michael Urquhart)

Thomson Reuters 2009. All rights reserved.




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