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BHP Billiton today announced that, as a result of a deterioration of the Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter furnace in Western Australia, it would bring forward the furnace rebuild.
Planning and preparation for a major rebuild of the furnace has been in progress for the past two years. The rebuild was planned to occur later in the next financial year, however an assessment of the furnace condition has determined the rebuild must take place now to ensure the ongoing safety of the workplace.
The duration of the rebuild is estimated to be around four months.
The Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter normally produces around 100,000 tonnes of nickel-in-matte per annum that is both the feedstock for the Kwinana Nickel Refinery and exported to international customers. The estimated impact on sales in the 2009 financial year is expected to be around 25,000 tonnes of contained nickel units, plus 3,000 tonnes of contained nickel units in the 2008 financial year.
As a result of the furnace rebuild the Kwinana Nickel Refinery will be forced to shutdown for the duration of the rebuild. The shutdown will commence immediately. BHP Billiton’s Nickel West operations are endeavouring to continue concentrate production.
As a consequence of the furnace rebuild, BHP Billiton is reallocating gas to the Worsley Alumina Refinery.