POLOKWANE – Job losses and the possible closure of the smelter in the city were avoided by the launch of construction on the Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) sulphur dioxide (SO²) abatement project at the Polokwane Smelter last Thursday.
The project was needed for the Polokwane Smelter to comply with the postponed Minimum Emission Standards (MES) requirements for SO² by 2020.
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Anglo American Platinum CEO, Chris Griffith, said the company will implement new Wet Sulphuric Acid (WSA) technology at the smelter, which will ultimately reduce SO² emissions by an estimated 96% in order to deliver the targeted abatement levels at the smelter.
The WSA process captures SO² gas from the furnace and converts it to sulphuric acid. The commercial-scale generation of sulphuric acid will add to an increased revenue income.
The SO² abatement technology will improve the air quality.
Polokwane Smelter was given an extension until 2020 to comply with new South African legislation. Should the project not have been launched, it would have resulted in legal non-compliance at the Polokwane Smelter and the possible closure thereof.
The closure would have significant economic implications and secondary socio-economic impacts such as the loss of employment and local economic benefits.
Construction of the sulphur dioxide abatement project is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
The proposed project will not result in many new employment opportunities, but will ensure existing jobs are retained at the Polokwane Smelter. According to Griffith, the capital value of the abatement project at the Polokwane smelter is R1,57 billion and will create around 500 construction jobs, give contract work to between 12 and 14 companies and award full-time jobs to 30 people.
Premier Chupu Mathabatha at the sod-turning ceremony last Thursday said Amplats is one of the most progressive corporate citizens in the province and he thanked them for their continued commitment to the country and the province in particular.