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Kamoa-Kakula copper complex in DRC to install MECS sulphuric acid plant

The Kamoa-Kakula copper complex, a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines, Zijin Mining Group and the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has partnered with Elessent Clean Technologies to install a new 2,500 t/d smelter off-gas MECS® sulphuric acid plant.

In conjunction with global EPC partner, China Nerin Engineering Co. Ltd, the new acid plant will be part of a new 500,000 t/y direct-to-blister flash copper smelter that is under construction at Kamoa-Kakula, as part of its Phase 3 expansion. Upon completion of the Phase 3 expansion, Kamoa-Kakula is projected to be the fourth largest copper operation globally.

The MECS sulphuric acid process incorporates state-of-the-art technologies, such as the MECS pre-conversion technology and the MECS DynaWave® gas cleaning technology. DynaWave scrubbers, the gold standard in gas cleaning applications, according to Elessent, clean and condition the upstream off gas of the smelting furnace at the sulphuric acid plant. The MECS pre-conversion technology is a novel approach for processing off-gas streams with elevated sulphur dioxide concentrations while consuming significantly less power, according to the company.

The MECS sulphuric acid technology has been in use for nearly a century in the phosphate fertiliser, non-ferrous metals (leaching & smelting), oil refining and general chemical industries. MECS technologies feature breakthrough solutions, many of which have revolutionised the performance, quality and cost-effectiveness of customer operations, according to Elessent. They include MECS heat recovery systems (HRS™), MECS SolvR® regenerative SO2 scrubbing and MECS MAX3™ sulphuric acid production technology. Integrated into these MECS technologies are specialty products such as catalysts, Brink® mist eliminators, DynaWave scrubbers, ZeCor® corrosion resistant alloy products and acid coolers, all of which are specifically designed for the most demanding operating environments. The MECS technology has more than 1,000 sulphuric acid plant licenses and projects.

David Mitchell, Kamoa-Kakula’s Senior Project Manager for the smelter project, said: “At Kamoa-Kakula we aim to set a new industry standard by being the greenest major copper mine in the world. It helps that DRC not only has an incredible mineral endowment, but also has an abundance of clean hydroelectricity to power its mining industry. However, we also need the right technology to extract the copper in a sustainable way. By using the MECS acid plant design and its incorporated technologies, our new plant helps achieve our path to net zero.”

Eli Ben-Shoshan, CEO, Elessent Clean Technologies, said: “Kamoa-Kakula is one of the world’s fastest-growing major copper operations. Partnering with NERIN on the mine’s greenfield smelter complex is very exciting. It is a great honour to work with the owners of what is anticipated to be one of the greenest major copper operations on the planet.”

The Kamoa-Kakula copper complex has been in commercial operations since July 2021. The operation is currently undergoing its Phase 3 expansion, which will increase copper production to over 600,000 t/y copper from the September quarter of 2024.

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