On-site Nyrstar Engineering Support

Leading the way on a large lead smelter

Port Pirie, South Australia is home to one of the world’s largest lead smelters – and also to a small team of mechanical and structural engineers.

Port Pirie’s lead smelter was founded over 120 years ago and it’s been in continuous operation ever since. To ensure it continues to efficiently produce lead and its by-products (like zinc, copper, gold and silver), it needs expert support and development. That’s why we have a team of Project managers, Mechanical and Structural engineers based on site. 

By undergoing a range of major projects, the smelter can keep pace with modern demands. One of these was the replacement of the slag fuming charge crane. The slag fuming plant relies on a travelling crane to lift and pour ladles of molten slag into two furnaces.The old crane was originally commissioned in 1965 and was at the end of its life.  

Delivering the new crane involved over 2,000 hours of work, mainly spent on detailed engineering and construction management. Over a period of 20 days, and involving four different contracting companies, the slag fuming was shut down and the roof was temporarily removed to make this happen.

Another key project is the blast furnace pan burner replacement, replacing old, non-compliant burners. Six new gas trains and six new blowers have been installed, bringing it up to a safe standard for workers and the local community alike.

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Hours of work on the new crane


Shutdown period


Date smelter established

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