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Risk assessment of Gördes nickel-cobalt process plant

Torun Bilgiç, Elif
High pressure acid leach (HPAL) is commonly utilized hydrometallurgical process for low grade laterites for the extraction of nickel and cobalt. The plant malfunctions bring about catastrophic accidents that prove the irreversible effects on human life, society, environment and economy. Identification of hazards is one of most important study for the risk assessment. Thus, investigating and reducing the probability of hazards and risks and inhibition of such accidents is very crucial for community and firms. In this study, the risk assessment of the Gördes Nickel–Cobalt process plant was performed. The plant is a huge construction and has complex working mechanism intrinsically can result in serious work accidents. This study was aimed at investigating the possible hazards and risks to construct risk assessment to contribute to develop risk assessment plans and risk management strategies for the plant operations and mine site. Firstly, system’s working principle was searched. Determination of possible hazards at units, estimation probability and severity of results caused by hazards and decision making of acceptable risk levels, elimination of risk or planning actions for decreasing the risk in terms of suitable safeguards and recommendations based on engineering judgement and previous data was done. In addition, accident data of five years (2014-2018) was investigated in order to determine the critical nodes of process plant, jobs, working hours etc. As a result of the present study, the most risky area is HPAL that employees had accident mostly at HPAL area by 10.65 percent due to the unacceptable level of risk inherent in its operation. Unacceptable level of risk in the process plant can be decreased by level, flow, pressure, temperature monitoring, control valve, secondary containment, interlock system, spare pump, level alarm etc. Accident statistics shows that the almost all accidents can be prevented by proper training, development of safety culture and administrative arrangement. This study can contribute to the integration of the occupational health and safety management system with quality, environmental, financial management systems, and sustainability of the whole system. This process plant has been unique for Turkey, thereby risk assessment’s analysis may be a reference for similar plants to be constructed in future. In addition, accident analysis of the process plant can help to focus on risky working areas and conditions, thus the accident prevention techniques and appropriate trainings can be developed in terms of the results of the analyses.