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Sulphuric Acid on the WebTM Technical Manual DKL Engineering, Inc.

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Acid Plant Database  September 28, 2019


Owner Nyrstar

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Location Risdon Road
Lutana Tasmania 7009
Background Formerly
- Pasminco
- Zinifex
2007 -
Nystar today announced that as of 31 August 2007 it had taken ownership of the zinc and lead smelting and alloying assests of Umicore and Zinifex, thereby formally launching the company and creating the world’s largest zinc producer.
Website www.nyrstar.com

Plant 1917 - 100 ton contact plant using sponge platinum catalyst
1923 - Schmiedel-type erected.  Modified into a Mills Packard chamber plant
1938 - 7th chamber plant commissioned
1948 - 1st contact sulphuric acid plant
1953 - 2nd contact sulphuric acid plant
1958 - 3rd contact sulphuric acid plant.  Total capacity of three plants = 170,000 tons/a
1966 - 4th (No. 4 unit) contact sulphuric acid plant commissioned. Total capacity = 300,000 tons/a
1981 - No. 6 contact sulphuric acid plant commissioned.  Equipped with mercury purification.  No. 1 and 2 units shutdown
1992 - No. 5 unit
Plant No. 5 -
Coordinates 42º 49' 53" S, 147º 18' 49" E 42º 49' 52" S, 147º 18' 46" E
Type of Plant Metallurgical Metallurgical
Gas Source Zn
Lurgi Roaster
Lurgi Roaster
Plant Capacity 571 MTPD -
SA/DA - -
Status Operating Operating
Year Built 1992 -
Technology Outotec (Lurgi) -
Contractor Outotec (Lurgi) -
Remarks - 2000 - Two gas/gas heat exchangers replaced by Chemetics (see picture)
        - Design of heat exchangers would facilitate the installation of a future DeNOx system
Pictures   Nyrstar-Hobart-3.JPG (62693 bytes)
  Nyrstar - Hobart 2.jpg (77002 bytes)  Nyrstar-Hobart-ETP.jpg (50818 bytes) 
General Zinifex's Hobart Smelter is located on the western bank of the River Derwent in Hobart, Tasmania and uses the RLE process.  All Hobart operations and residue stockpiles are located on this site which has a deepwater port with modern bulk handling equipment.  Zinc smelting at Hobart dates back to November 1916 when a small pilot plant was built. Thereafter, it expanded rapidly and by the early 1920s, it was the world's largest zinc smelter. Today Hobart is one of the largest zinc operations in the world and produced more than 250,000 tonnes of zinc metal during 2003 as well as other associated metals and by-products. Its key products are SHG, CGG and EZDA.  Hobart's strategy is based on exporting premium products to growing markets in Asia. Zinifex will seek to increase Hobart's EZDA producing capacity to around 215,000 tonnes per year whilst managing Zinifex's costs and seeking to leverage its competitive position as a major consumer of electricity.  Hobart will also seek to increase the proportion of the concentrate it is able to treat from Century, an initiative Zinifex regards as essential in order to allow Port Pirie to meet its commitment to eliminate paragoethite residues by 2020.  The initiative will also accelerate recovery of contained metal from historic on site by-product stockpiles.


Hobart sourced approximately 29% of its concentrate requirements from Rosebery and a further 10% from Century during 2003. Zinifex plans to increase Hobart's proportion of Century concentrates to 70% beyond 2007.  Hobart is also integrated with the Port Pirie smelter, with the latter processing Hobart's paragoethite by-product as well as other leach product residues from historic stockpiles located on site. Due to Century's low iron content, Hobart's production of paragoethite will fall substantially as it increases the proportion of Century concentrates that it treats.  This will free up processing capacity at Port Pirie and enable it to treat more of Hobart's historic leach product residues, which contain around 18% zinc compared to paragoethite's 17%. It will also assist in enabling Port Pirie to eliminate its paragoethite stockpiles by 2020.


Hobart produces more than 250,000 tonnes of zinc metal per year, most of which are premium zinc alloy products. EZDA is Hobart's highest margin product of which, during 2003, it produced approximately 122,000 tonnes.  Currently, the roaster limits production at Hobart. Zinifex has plans to increase production to 260,000 tonnes per year beyond 2005 through de-bottlenecking. Furthermore, it plans to increase EZDA production to 215,000 tonnes per year over approximately the next five years as part of its strategy of focusing on supplying high margin products into key growth markets.  Hobart also produces more than 420,000 tonnes of high quality sulphuric acid per year and approximately 110,000 tonnes per year of paragoethite, which is shipped to Port Pirie for treatment.  Port Pirie treats approximately 65% of this paragoethite, and stockpiles the remainder for later treatment. Hobart also produces approximately 28,000 tonnes of Lead Sulphate Leach Concentrate that is sold externally.

Environmental Management

The Hobart smelter Environmental Management System was recommended for ISO 14001 certification in October 2003.  Despite the challenge of dealing with many historical and current environmental issues, Hobart has been recognised as a proactive environmental manager and has a strategy in place to eliminate stockpiles of a range of by-products and wastes and to manage contaminated storm water run-off and groundwater.  A move to increase the proportion of concentrates it sources from Century will require additional SOx and NOx emission controls, but is an integral part of the Port Pirie by-product elimination plan.

Capital Expenditure

Hobart is expecting to spend around $50 million during 2004 and 2005, which includes $20 million for modifications necessary for Hobart to continuously process 70% of its concentrates from Century.  Hobart plans to invest $1.9 million to increase its EZDA capacity to 185,000 tonnes in 2005 as the first stage of its plan to increase it to 215,000 tonnes.
References -
News September 26, 2019 - A worker who died at a Hobart zinc refinery on Wednesday was in an area of the plant potentially susceptible to sulphur dioxide, unions say.  The 60-year-old worker with more than 30 years of experience at the Nyrstar plant is understood to have been found unconscious at 5pm on Wednesday and could not be revived.  Robert Flanagan, of the Australian Workers’ Union, told The Australian the man, who is yet to be named, was working in an area where a furnace was being fired up, during which time sulphur dioxide could be emitted.  “The area where the deceased worker was found was in the process of starting up no. 6 roast (furnace) and as a part of that process sulphur dioxide is emitted,” Mr Flanagan said.  “What we don’t know is whether that was the case at the time; whether it (the gas) was present, or if it was present, what levels of sulphur dioxide were there.  “What we do know is that there are fixed alarms in the area which go off when it hits certain thresholds, and that the level of sulphur dioxide is monitored and recorded.”  He said this information would be available to WorkSafe Tasmania, as a part of its investigation into the death of the man, who is survived by a wife and two adult children.  “We haven’t been able to get clarity about whether alarms were going off at the time or not,” Mr Flanagan said. “The worker was working alone at the time. We need to find out what the cause of death was.  “If that leads to a conclusion that it was as a consequence of the workplace, then obviously there is going to have to be an extremely serious review of operating procedures in that part of the plant.”  There was no obvious cause of death. “All we know is a co-worker found the deceased unconscious and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful,” he said. “The union extends its condolences to the family, workmates and friends of the deceased.”  The union had “significant concerns around safety” at the ageing plant, at Lutana, in the city’s north. “We can’t say that those concerns are related to this fatality — we simply don’t know at this point,” he said.  Nyrstar would not comment on what was known about sulphur dioxide levels in the area of the plant when the man fell unconscious. “An investigation is still underway and at this stage the cause of death of the employee is unknown,” a spokeswoman said.  The company did not wish to comment about the union’s safety concerns. “Nyrstar is undertaking an investigation into the incident and is working with WorkSafe Tasmania and Tasmania Police,” Nyrstar said in a statement.  “Nyrstar extends its sincere sympathies to the family, friends and colleagues of the employee...Nyrstar will offer counselling and other support to colleagues who have been affected by this incident.”  Sulphur dioxide can cause narrowing of the airways and exacerbate conditions such as asthma and heart problems.

August 15, 2012
-  A faulty transformer has been blamed for a gas leak at a Hobart zinc plant which forced thousands of residents and students indoors.  The Environment Protection Authority is investigating the release of sulphur trioxide and sulphur dioxide at the Nyrstar smelter about 9:00am.  Parts of the smelter were evacuated and residents of Lutana, Cornelian Bay, Risdon and Lindisfarne were warned to stay indoors in case winds blew the potentially dangerous chemical into their suburbs.  Emergency crews gave the all-clear about mid-morning.  Nyrstar's general manager, Jeremy Kouw, says a transformer in the smelter failed, cutting power.  "The issue is that we get an internal power spike and that's basically tripped a lot of the motors," he said.  Managers released a cloud of sulphur dioxide and sulphur trioxide to protect employees after the power failure stopped an acid plant.  Mr Kouw says for the safety of employees, it was important to keep some gases flowing through the plant.  "For about 30 minutes this morning we had a visible emission of processed gas after the power failure," he said.  "That's a mixture of sulphur dioxide and sulphur trioxide. It's mainly sulphur dioxide that's been emitted to atmosphere."  The company has acknowledged a series of loud sirens which followed the leak added to community angst.  A loud bang was heard across the River Derwent shortly before 9:00am. A gas plume followed and was visible for about 30 minutes.  Mr Kouw says the company restarted the affected machinery, causing loud sirens to ring but says they are part of operational safety.  "The siren just alerts people to the fact that a piece of rotating equipment is about to start."  Nyrstar says it will consult the community as part of its investigation into the incident.  "We're obviously really keen to work cooperatively with all the community," Mr Kouw said.  "So our social licence to operate is dependent on the relationship we have with our community."  "We've got a good relationship and in circumstances like this it's an opportunity for us to work out what we can do better next time.
"The spill also forced 2,500 school students indoors.  The Education Department's Judy Travers says affected schools responded quickly.  "As soon as the police advised us, we rang every principal and school office in a three kilometre radius of the site, as well as schools on eastern shore as a precautionary measure."  "Our advice for them was certainly to keep all students in at recess and to have our windows shut and all air conditioning turned off."  There were no reports of injuries.  A chemical expert says the effect of the gases can be severe.  Professor of Chemistry at the University of Tasmania, Paul Haddad, says if anyone had been walking past at the time, it would not have been pleasant.  "[Sulphur trioxide] its problems relate to the fact that as soon as it contacts water it becomes sulphuric acid," he said.  "So sulphur trioxide is the precursor to acid rain. If you breathe in sulphur trioxide, as soon as it contacts your nose, or your moth throat and lungs, it forms sulphuric acid in situ, and it's extremely acrid and unpleasant and dangerous."  Two years ago, one worker at the plant was affected by sulphur dioxide gas when a power surge triggered a shut down.

July 22, 2010 - Production has resumed at Hobart's Nyrstar Zinc Works after a power surge triggered a shut down early this morning.  Nearby residents were woken by sirens at the plant and reported seeing smoke and steam pouring from the smelter.  One worker was taken to hospital affected by sulphur dioxide gas.  Nyrstar's General Manager Jeremy Kouw says the cause of the power surge will be investigated this afternoon.  "The initial priority is to get the process up and running again. We're doing that at the moment and once everything is re-established and operating again, we'll carry out the investigation to fully understand the trip this morning."

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