ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, was recently awarded a five-year ABB Full Service® contract with Namibia Custom Smelters (NCS), to manage and improve all maintenance activities at their copper smelting and converting plant in northern Namibia. The full service total plant maintenance agreement includes the transfer of NCS maintenance and reliability staff to ABB, as of 1 July 2012.

ABB’s Full Service model, which involves the complete management and operation of a plant’s maintenance function, and development and implementation of expert measures to improve productivity and equipment reliability, will be employed at NCS. In this manpower-intensive environment, ABB’s performance agenda will include a strong focus on occupational health and safety (OHS) standards for the workplace.

NCS is located in Tsumeb, Namibia, approximately 425km north of the capital, Windhoek. The plant, which was commissioned in 1963, is owned by Dundee Precious Metals of Canada. It consists of two primary smelting furnaces, three converters, and has an annual production capacity of 200,000t of copper concentrate from the treatment of complex copper concentrates containing gold, silver and arsenic.

The smelter is one of only a few in the world which is able to treat arsenic-bearing copper concentrates. Both blister copper and arsenic trioxide are produced from the concentrates; the copper is then delivered to refineries for final processing, while the arsenic trioxide is sold to third-party customers.

"ABB Full Service agreements provide our customers with the industry’s best practices for plant maintenance, process performance, and equipment reliability, help to further develop skilled maintenance personnel and capture and retain valuable process knowledge on site," said Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB’s Process Automation division.

Under the agreement, ABB will manage all maintenance to improve productivity and equipment reliability at the plant, and retain and develop all existing maintenance staff and management. In addition, ABB will provide process optimization, energy consulting and equipment lifecycle services at the site, as well as to manage all third-party subcontractors and suppliers.

"Namibia Custom Smelters is excited to welcome ABB on site. We are confident that ABB will introduce the necessary skills and expertise to assist with converting the Smelter into a world-class facility," said Hans Nolte, vice president and managing director, NCS. "As new state-of-the-art technology is introduced, highly-skilled engineering staff will be required to maintain the Smelter in the future. NCS is confident that ABB will apply best practices and transfer knowledge to Namibian employees who will benefit from this partnership in the long run."

This contract complements more than 100 ABB Full Service relationships with customers in the paper, metals, mining, chemicals, and oil and gas industries worldwide.