Dross recycling plant opens at Tiwai

SCOT MACKAY
Last updated 05:00 06/10/2011

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A Bahrain-based company wants to expand its dross recycling operations throughout the world after opening a multimillion-dollar factory at Tiwai Point yesterday.

Construction of the Taha Asia Pacific recycling plant began this year at New Zealand Aluminium Smelters and was officially opened yesterday with a ceremony and Maori blessing.

The plant recycles aluminium dross – the waste byproduct of the smelting process – and the 40,000-odd tonnes stored in landfills at Tiwai.

Taha Asia Pacific's parent company Taha International managing director Frank Pollmann said a similar plant had been running in Bahrain for the past seven years, but the Tiwai one was its first overseas and he hoped to expand from there.

Mr Pollmann said the corporation was already in talks with a rolling mill in Soha, Oman, which he hoped to begin construction on next year, while it was also bidding to process dross in Aust-ralia.

The plant at Tiwai had been expected to cost $5 million to build, but cost "well in excess" of that, he said.

He declined to say how much it had cost.

Meanwhile, Taha Asia Pacific general manager Mark Egginton said the company employed 22 people to process the dross but that number was expected to rise to about 30 as it increased production.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said he was delighted to have a dross recycling plant in Southland after the problems dross had caused in the past.

About 10,000 tonnes was discovered stockpiled by Haysom Metal Industries in a warehouse at Bluff in 1991 after it shut down suddenly and created widespread public concern about potential health effects.

It was later moved to the landfill at Tiwai, having been found to pose little risk to human health, but since then new dross has been shipped to Australia for recyc-ling.

The metal recovered through the recycling process will be returned to the smelter and the rest is used in the manufacture of phosphate fertiliser.

Taha is setting up the fertiliser plant in Invercargill and hopes to have it completed in late November, with a goal of producing about 160,000 tonnes of fertiliser.

HOW THE PROCESS WORKS

Dross, the byproduct of the aluminium smelting process, is delivered to the plant from the smelter and is transported into a crusher where it is broken down.

Wet dross from the smelter's landfill is dried first the dross is then worked through a machine to separate it from the metal the metal is returned to the smelter to be reused and the rest is stored to be used to make fertiliser the rest of the details of the process are confidential

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