MMG Century updates community of sulfur dioxide emissions

09 Oct 2009 12:00 AMMedia Release

MMG Century mine today updated the Karumba community of a continuation of sulfur dioxide emissions from its concentrate shed at the Karumba port facility in the Lower Gulf Region of Queensland.

Speaking from Karumba, John Lamb, General Manager of Century mine, said these emissions were created by the large volume of zinc concentrate, approximately 70,000 tonnes, currently stored in its shed at the Karumba port facility.

“As many people will know, our transfer vessel, the MV Wunma, recently underwent dry docking in Singapore and during this time we had to use a smaller vessel to load concentrate to export vessels.  

“This has meant that the volume of concentrate built up over the dry docking period,” he said.

Mr Lamb said that this situation has been exacerbated by recent technical issues with the reclaimer inside the storage shed, the equipment used to move concentrate onto the conveyor to load the vessel.

“These issues with the reclaimer have led to an inability to load the transfer vessel and reduce the concentrate stockpile.

“I am very pleased to say though that we expect to commence manually operating the reclaimer later today, subject to safety and technical checks, which will see stocks reduced and subsequently sulfur dioxide levels in the shed gradually reduced to normal levels,” he said.

While these emissions are currently occurring inside the Karumba port facility’s storage shed, monitoring results on the perimeter of the port facility have indicated some low level fluctuation in sulfur dioxide levels outside the shed.

Mr Lamb said that these emissions can be noticeable by a slight odour and in the event of this being noticed, people may experience slight coughing or ‘tickling’ in the back of the throat.

“We take our health and community obligations very seriously and so wanted to bring this issue to public attention to ensure that residents in Karumba are kept well informed of any potential, albeit unlikely, impact.

Mr Lamb said that the company had increased the amount and frequency of its atmospheric monitoring at Karumba, with testing currently being undertaken three times a day at several locations to track any increase in emissions and allow us to keep the community regularly up to date with the results.

“We have information on the situation and the effects of sulfur dioxide posted to community notice boards around town and have been similarly posting the locations and results of our air testing program on a daily basis.

"Karl Spaleck, the Deputy General Manager, and I will be meeting with community members over the coming days to discuss the situation and any concerns they may have,” he said.

As a precaution, Mr Lamb said MMG had made arrangements for residents directly adjacent to the port facility to have access to alternative accommodation should they feel they are being affected by the emissions.

“We remain in constant contact with these residents and, to date they have chosen to remain in their own accommodation but the option to move will remain until the issue is resolved.

“In the meantime, I encourage residents to contact us if they have any questions or concerns at any time, day or night, and certainly visit the Karumba Health Clinic if they feel unwell”, he said.

Mr Lamb said that MMG appreciated the severity of the situation and that it is not acceptable to the local community.

“Our aim is to get the concentrate loading as quickly as possible in order to reduce the emissions and continue to take the appropriate measures to keep local community and regulatory authorities fully informed," he said. 

MMG is discussing the impact on its shipping schedule with its customers and will continue to keep them informed of progress through the coming days.

Any resident who wants further information or would like to raise an issue or concern can contact Ms Jillian D’Urso, Century mine’s Stakeholder Relations Officer, on 0417 117 753.

For more information contact:
Sally Cox
Communications Manager
T: 03 9288 0850 / 0417 144 524