Port Pirie smelter redevelopment reaches milestone

Nyrstar's Port Pirie smelter has welcomed the arrival of a new furnace as part of its $500 million redevelopment.

The ABC reports that the 150-tonne furnace shell is significant to the project because it will significantly reduce lead emissions from the plant.

The South Australian city of Port Pirie has been affected by high lead levels in residents for many years. This poses significant health problems, especially for children.

"This redevelopment cleans up those lead issues that have bewitched this town for so long," South Australian Treasurer and State Development Minister Tom Koutsantonis said.

Koutsantonis said the construction workforce at the site is set to increase from about 100 to 400 in the coming months as the works continue.

Dutch company Nyrstar plans to finish the upgrade by the end of 2016. $291 million of the cost of the redevelopment has been underwritten by the South Australian government.

Apart from upgrades to the smelter's efficiency and environmental friendliness, a 10-year, $50 million lead abatement program is also being carried out.