Galaxy Resources has recommenced operations at its Jiangsu lithium carbonate plant, after receiving clearance for repair works to affected pipes which exploded in November last year.
The Zhangjiagang Safety Bureau has inspected the newly replaced U-bend section of the pipes in the plant’s sodium sulphate crystallization area where the freak rupture occurred.
Investigators say an abnormal and unexpected blockage in the vertical crystallizer section held up a mass of sodium sulphate liquid which caused the pipe to explode when it was released. Two employees died as a result of injuries sustained in the explosion.
The company replaced some of the fibreglass pipes with stainless steel sections to ensure the risk of another rupture is minimized.
Galaxy used the subsequent shutdown of the plant to make further modifications at the site, aimed at improving operability and throughout rate upon recommencement of production.
The company’s managing director Iggy Tan has thanked the site’s staff and management for their efforts in the re-design and repair of the affected section. “We are pleased to have obtained the Zhangjiagang Safety Bureau’s clearance and to have recommenced operations. We are now fully operational and once again producing lithium carbonate at the plant.”
A complete hazard and operability review (HAZOP) has also been undertaken by consultants Risk Management Solutions to ensure the complete and ongoing safety of the Jiangsu facility.
The main calcination kiln is in the final stage of the dry out process and will be heated to full temperature to coincide with the plant’s re-start of operations.
Jiangsu is the first fully-automated lithium carbonate plant in China and one of the most highly sophisticated plants of its kind in the world. Prior to the shutdown, Galaxy had achieved continuous lithium carbonate production and plant stability after achieving first production at Jiangsu in July 2012.