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Acid Plant Database  June 20, 2016

Owner Atlas Precious Metals Inc.


Location Potosi
Background 1985-1988 - Corporacion Minera de Bolivia (Comibol)
Website www.atlaspreciousmetals.com
Plant Karachipampa Lead/Silver Smelter
Coordinates* 19° 33' 2" S, 65° 43' 21" W
Type of Plant Metallurgical
Gas Source Zinc
Lead/Silver Concentrate
Plant Capacity 140,000 STPA
Emissions -
Status For Sale
Year Built -
Technology -
Contractor -

Originally installed in Pennsylvania, the plant was only tested but never put into full production before being purchased in 2009 by Atlas Precious Metals Inc., with the intended purpose of shipping it to South America for use in a Bolivian mining operation.

Shipment was initially delayed by bad weather, but later, a change in that country's policies caused the owner to keep it in storage in Houston, Texas ever since. 

Now PMI has been instructed by the current owner to sell it as one entire package via the sealed bid process. Please read the required Sealed Bid Form for more details. 

Pictures Atlas-Precious-Metals-1.jpg (167788 bytes)  Atlas-Precious-Metals-map.jpg (51665 bytes)
General The Karachipampa Lead/Silver Smelter is located in Potosi, Bolivia. It was constructed during the period 1985 thru 1988 by Corporacion Minera de Bolivia (COMIBOL) and was never fired due to a lack of lead concentrate production in Bolivia. A total of $180 million have been expended on the facility to date by COMIBOL. The plant has been on care and maintenance since completion and is in ‘new condition’. It was designed and constructed by Klockner, a German engineering and construction firm, with design based on state-of-the-art Russian Kivcet technology. This technology is in common use around the world with two of the most important users being the Cominco Trail Smelter in British Columbia and the Glencore Porto Vesme Smelter on the island of Sardenia, Italy.

The zinc smelter is to be constructed by Atlas Precious Metals Inc. at its cost and the existing smelter will be included in the Joint Venture by COMIBOL. Atlas Precious Metals Inc. will participate to 65% JV interest and COMIBOL 35%. APMI will own the newly constructed facilities and COMIBOL will retain ownership of the existing smelter.

The existing Karachipampa Lead/Silver smelter has an installed capacity of 51,100 tons per annum of lead/silver concentrates with all fume being recycled back to the Kivcet furnace for re-smelting. When the zinc smelter is completed, all fume will go to the zinc leach cycle and primary capacity of Karachipampa will increase to 62,000 tons per annum. 25,000 tons per annum of the primary Kivcet feed will originate from the zinc circuit as leach residuals, containing 24% zinc and 20% lead with all silver from zinc smelting.

The combined smelter will produce 70,000 tons per annum of high grade zinc slabs, 30,000 tons per annum of lead ingots and approximately 10 million ounces per annum of silver. It will also recover gold, cadmium, bismuth, copper, tin and a number of other metals. It will produce 140,000 tons per annum of sulfuric acid which will initially be sold out of the country and eventually be used to produce boric acid from the Solar Uyuni ulexites, as well as sodium sulfate and gypsum, with the chemical plants being owned 100% by Atlas Precious Metals Inc..

The Karachipampa Smelter will smelt 100% of the production of 68 Cooperatives employing over 4,000 workers on Cerro Rico, the richest silver deposit in the world, located within 10 kilometers of the smelter. Atlas Precious Metals Inc. believes that with judicial investment and technical advice, production from Cerro Rico will reach 65,000 tons per year of zinc concentrate and 20,000 tpa of lead/silver concentrate within one year.

References -
News September 25, 2009 - Atlas Precious Metals expects to bring its 51,100 tpy lead-silver smelter in Karachipampa, Bolivia, on stream in January once it gets approval to install a 500,000 tpy sulphuric acid plant in the country. The sulphuric acid plant was built by a US firm and is ready to be shipped, but Atlas needs legal consent from the Bolivian state-owned mining company Comibol for an environmental permit for the plant.

2009-05-08 - A new sulfuric acid plant needed for the Karachipampa polymetallurgical complex in Bolivia's Potosí department will arrive in 45 days.  The Karachipampa complex's reactivation has been held up by delayed financing of US$85mn, which is necessary for shipping the sulfuric acid plant from Houston, Betsy Miranda, the legal representative for Canada's Atlas Precious Metals (APM), told BNamericas.  Because the Bolivian government has vouched for the company, the international investment bank in question can now issue the financing and the plant should be shipped to Potosí by the end of the month, she said.   On May 5, the Bolivian government issued APM a guarantee that was sent on to the bank so the payment can proceed immediately.  Miranda added that earthmoving works are underway for installing the new plant which will complement Karachipampa's operations.   "Approximately 20 Bolivian metallurgical engineers traveled to the US to be trained in plant assembly and management, and they are currently giving training seminars to the local employees," she said.  Bolivian state miner Comibol and APM signed a 35:65 JV agreement in June 2005 to reactivate the 51,000t/y complex for the treatment of silver-zinc concentrates.  APM expects to invest US$141mn in the project in total.

2008-02-21 - Canada's Atlas Precious Metals is going to invest $141 million to begin production in one year at a smelter in Bolivia that has been shut for 25 years, local media reported on Thursday.  Transfer of ownership interest in the defunct plant, located on the outskirts of the historic mining city of Potosi, some 600 kilometers south of La Paz, took place on Wednesday, nearly three years after Atlas and Bolivia's state-run mining company Comibol signed a shared risk agreement.  The deal comes as Bolivia's leftist government has moved to tighten state control over the mining sector. In early 2007, the government nationalized a tin smelter operated by Swiss group Glencore International AG. President Evo Morales has also hiked taxes on mining companies operating in the country.  Ontario-based Atlas will control a 65 percent stake in the Karachipampa plant. Comibol will hold the remainder. Karachipampa, known for years as a "white elephant", was inherited from military dictatorships that were never able to get it up and running amid a lack of raw materials and low prices for lead and silver in recent decades.  The plant, built for the Bolivian government by the German company Klockner at a cost of between $150 million and $200 million, has a processing capacity of 51,000 tonnes per year of silver and lead.   Atlas President Roy Shipes said the investment would be used to get the existing smelter operating, and to build an adjoining zinc refinery with an annual production capacity of 150,000 tonnes and a sulfuric acid plant.  Potosi is one of Bolivia's mining centers. In the 1700s, the city was one of the world's most populous because of the still productive giant silver mine Cerro Rico. Shipes said he hoped the revival of the smelter will help the city return to its former glory as the the country's industrial capital.  Alberto Echazu, Bolivia's mining minister, said the agreement with Atlas showed the government's willingness to work side by side with companies that have a real desire to be partners.  Zinc and silver have become Bolivia's principal mineral exports, drawing the interest of foreign companies such as U.S.-based companies Apex Silver Mines Ltd. SIL.A and Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp., which are developing big mining projects south of Potosi.  Bolivian zinc exports in 2007 totaled nearly 200,000 tonnes worth some $600 million, while silver exports of over 400 tonnes brought in about $200 million.  Atlas' Web site said the company has signed four other agreements with Comibol to exploit lead, silver and zinc mines in western Bolivia.

MTPD - Metric Tonne per Day           STPD - Short Ton per Day
MTPA - Metric Tonne per Annum      STPA - Short Ton per Annum
SA - Single Absorption
DA - Double Absorption

* Coordinates can be used to locate plant on Google Earth