Despite the difficult economic situation, Kazzinc, Kazakhstan’s largest producer of zinc, copper, lead and precious metals, continues to carry out production expansion projects. Since 2009, the company has been producing over 300,000 tonnes of zinc a year and has been increasing production of lead and gold. Kazzinc Executive Director for Administrative Matters Andrei Lazarev told Interfax-Kazakhstan in an interview about the company’s current performance and future plans.
- Could you please tell us about the current performance and future plans of the company?
- In the first half of 2016, Kazzinc produced 152,000 tonnes of zinc, 76,000 tonnes of lead, 33,600 tonnes of copper, 9,400 tonnes of gold and 459 tonnes of silver.
In 2014, Kazzinc acquired the Zhairem deposit in the Karaganda region. This is one of Kazakhstan’s biggest deposits, which contains zinc, lead, barite, nickel and ferromanganese ores. This was a strategic acquisition for the company, as the deposit now helps us to support zinc production.
The reserves of the Zhairem deposit were approved by the State Committee of Geology and Subsoil Use at 72 million tonnes of ore, with the average content of zinc at about 3.5% and lead at 1.3%. This would allow us to produce about 2.5 million tonnes of zinc.
For the first time in its history, the pilot concentrator at the Zhairem Mining and Processing Integrated Works (Zhairem GOK) started processing metal ores. The content of lead in the produced concentrate comes to 20-25%, and then the product is sent to Ridder, a town in the East-Kazakhstan region, for further processing. The finished concentrate is used to produce lead and silver at the Kazzinc smelters. The method for the processing of lead ore from Ushkatyn-3 deposit was developed by Kazzinc and it has proved its high production efficiency.
In order to expand its proven ore reserves, Kazzinc concluded contracts for exploration and development of the Obruchevskoye metal ore deposit and the Dolinnoye gold and metal ore deposit, which lie 2.5 and 4.5 kilometers, respectively, from Ridder.
The both deposits are expected to produce 600,000 tonnes of ore a year. Mining construction, which is currently underway, will be completed in 2017.
- Did the company implement any innovation projects in the last few years?
- One of our innovation projects is called HydroPolyMet. The project is aimed to develop a method for processing low-grade sulfide concentrates. In the framework of HydroPolyMet project we constructed a pilot unit for atmospheric leaching in 2013.
In 2014-2015, we tested a method for direct leaching of sulfide concentrates at atmospheric pressure. The method proved to be efficient, for it allows achieving a higher ratio in zinc and copper production from low-grade sulfide concentrates. The company plans to expand the pilot unit into a large-scale production process.
- Are there any projects due for completion this year?
- Kazzinc invests heavily in the development of its power generation division, Bukhtarminsk Hydro Plant. After the modernization of the hydro plant, we commissioned a new turbine in 2011 and put into operation state-of-the-art systems for generator excitation and control in the following four years. We launched a project for modernization of the 220 kV switchyard in 2014 and we plan to complete it in November 2016.
- Talking about modernization, could you name any other projects as an example?
- This would be the Modernization of KazZincMash, a subdivision of Kazzinc in Ridder focused on production and maintenance of mining and metal making equipment, as well as production of spare parts.
During this project, which was implemented in 2007-2015, we modernized the foundry, boiler manufacturing, metal cutting and machine assembly shops. We constructed a state-of-the-art warehouse for casting molds. We also purchased and introduced specialized software. The cost of the KazZincMash Modernization Project totaled over $53 million.
Currently KazZincMash is a competitive engineering company, which produces about 2,500 types of products including nearly all types of mining equipment (electric locomotives, trucks, tippers, scraper winches, drills, rotary hammers), mineral processing equipment and their spare parts (crushers, mills, screens, flotation machines), metallurgical equipment (casting molds, chutes, molds, lead alkali refining, cathode wash systems, stacking conveyors, shovels, pumps, hydro cylinders) and many others.
- Given the current difficult economic situation, does the company implement any energy saving projects?
- All enterprises of Kazzinc introduced energy saving measures, which are part of the company’s Energy Saving Program for 5 years. For instance, the Ridder smelter (RMK) continued to improve its energy recycling systems. The enterprise introduced a condensate return system for the treated water heating at the water treatment facility, resulting in a decrease in heat consumption by 4,375 Gcal a year.
The Ust-Kamenogorsk smelter put into operation a state-of-the-art air separation unit at the oxygen and argon plant in the maintenance shop. The zinc plant of the Ust-Kamenogorsk smelter replaced the existing electrolytic baths with bigger baths to allow for installation of additional cathodes, which helped to significantly reduce electricity consumption.
Zyryanovsk Mining and Processing Integrated Works replaced the last of the four turbo air compressors in the maintenance shops. The new compressors are more efficient, economical and have an energy saving operating system. These energy saving projects are only a few to mention.
- Will you tell us about the company’s ongoing environmental projects?
- All existing environmental programs are aimed to reduce emissions, to improve water return system and to recycle solid wastes.
In order to reduce emissions, we implemented a project called A New Metallurgy. In the framework of the project, we introduced the ISOSMELT process for lead production to replace the sinter plant technology.
To decrease solid wastes, we modernized the dust-collecting plant by introducing a new gas cleaning technology that enables recovery of valuable materials from off-gases.
In addition, the Ridder and Zyrayanovsk concentrators introduced new systems that ensure 100% water return. The same water return systems are in operation at the Ust-Kamenogorsk and Ridder smelters.
Expenses on the company’s environmental projects amounted to 1.4 billion tenge in 2015 and will come to 1.03 billion tenge in 2016 and 1.7 billion tenge in 2017. Kazzinc expenses associated with operating its treatment facilities are around 6 billion tenge.
- Thank you for the interview!
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