Furnace restarted at Assmang Cato Ridge works

8 April 2008

Assmang Limited has resumed ferromanganese production with the recommissioning of one of its six furnaces at its Cato Ridge Works, outside Durban, KwaZulu Natal. The Department of Labour gave the go-ahead on Friday, 4 April 2008 for the first furnace to be recommissioned.

“Following a thorough risk assessment and the introduction of additional safety measures, the Department of Labour revoked its prohibition order for the first of the six furnaces after consultations with ourselves and organised labour,” said Princess Thwala, senior general manager at Assmang’s Cato Ridge Works.

“The tragic incident on 24 February 2008 in which lives were lost has re-sharpened our focus on safety and overall employee wellness at Cato Ridge Works. Safety is paramount in our business and there is no substitute for it.”
Assmang executive director Jan Steenkamp also welcomed the opening of the first furnace, adding that the company was doing its best to ensure there was no repeat of similar incidents. Assmang has implemented safety measures proposed by the independent investigator as required by the Department of Labour, including the construction of blast protection walls surrounding the control rooms of the furnaces.

“It is imperative that we get back to business under circumstances that optimise shareholder value without compromising people’s lives,” said Steenkamp.

Should the Department of Labour give the green light to recommission three other furnaces this week, four furnaces may be in full operation at the plant by the end of the week. A planned shutdown period for the fifth furnace has been brought forward with recommissioning expected in mid-May. The sixth furnace, damaged extensively in the explosion of 24 February, is expected to be recommissioned in the 4th quarter of 2008.