Dickinson Group of Companies provides highly specialized Catalyst Handling Services to the mining, metal smelting and mineral processing industries across sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. The company’s heavy duty catalyst handling equipment, experienced and well trained personnel are capable of executing catalyst handling and complementary services in the most challenging confined and hazardous working environments through compliance to strict health, safety, environmental, legislation and procedures.

    Modern day smelting processes for ores containing sulphides, make use of air enriched with oxygen, the processes generate sulphur dioxide and sulphur trioxide off gasses as by-products. When released to the atmosphere, the gases react with moisture or rain resulting in sulphurous acids or acid rain. As such, stringent environmental regulations have been imposed for companies that generate SO2 emissions in their operations. Various innovative approaches have been widely explored, with some involving the conversion of sulphur dioxide to sulphur trioxide for production of sulphuric acid, a process which takes place in reactors commonly called convertors. To speed up this oxidizing reaction, convertors contain calculated quantities of a vanadium pentoxide based catalyst. 

    By definition a catalyst is “a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.” However, in continuous industrial processes, the phenomenon of catalyst surface poisoning and surface area impairment are prominent, hence the need for catalyst surface re-activation, top-up and replacement. 

    Dickinson Group of Companies takes full responsibility for the entire catalyst handling process in the mining, metal smelting and mineral processing industries including:

    • Catalyst un-loading
    • Catalyst screening
    • Catalyst reloading 

    Catalyst Screening eliminates process dust, catalyst fines and small catalyst particles generated over time which affects the catalyst reaction’s surface area. The frequency of this process varies from plant to plant depending on their operational challenges, life of the catalyst and other technical matters.

    In addition to catalyst handling, the company provides a range of complementary services to the sulphuric acid plants including:
    • Corrosion Protection and Control
    • Acid Proofing
    • Industrial Lining and Coating applications
    • High and Ultra High Pressure Cleaning of heat exchangers, Tanks and Vessels 
    • Catalyst supply and stock holding

    Dickinson Group of Companies; underpinned by 90 years of experience in providing specialist furnace and industrial services to mining, metals smelting, mineral processing, thermal power generation and petrochemical refining industries stands out as a service provider of choice.


    Catalyst Unloading

    Catalyst unloading is a technical and specialized skill requiring a broad understanding of all safety requirements and experience in convertor loading sequence. Through excellent project planning, monitoring, control, communication, coordination and management, Dickinson Group ensures that catalyst layers are separated according to age and or type without cross contamination, harm to personnel and endangering the convertor structural integrity. Our team of experts pay critical attention to the equipment set-up, manpower movements on catalyst surface inside convertors, vacuumation suction pressure and catalyst velocity to avoid breakage. Special barriers are constructed inside convertors for personnel movements while vacuuming to avoid catalyst damage. The Vacuum suction air velocity is carefully monitored and maintained to eliminate catalyst breakage. In addition the team ensures that all ceramic ball layers are vacuumed separate from the catalyst.

    Screening and Materials Handling

    Catalyst Screening is a major factor to the success of the entire catalyst handling service. If equipment is not well designed and selected, catalyst damage may occur resulting in losses for the client in addition to the inherent down time incurred during catalyst handling service. Dickinson Group’s equipment and experience guarantees clients safer, efficient, faster and environmentally friendly catalyst screening that eliminates catalyst damage and reduces costs. 

    Our competent technical and field team conduct a successful screening campaign backed with the correct plant data and screen mesh selection. The division stocks a wide range of standard screen sizes including; 18mm, 15mm, 12mm, 10mm, 8mm and 3mm. During the catalyst screening process the screen condition is constantly monitored in order to maintain consistent quality and particle size grade in every batch. The process involves removal of material accumulation in the dividing plates under the grids. Furthermore, all the meshes are then inspected and replaced based on the prevailing condition. 

    Dickinson Group takes material handling as a very critical ingredient to achieving a successful catalyst handling and Acid Plant Convertor operations. Every bag from a specific pass and layer of the convertor is well labelled and stored/stack in a well-defined specific area. 


    Internal convertor inspections, maintenance and repairs are critical to a successful plant shutdown. All necessary works must be undertaken before catalyst loading is performed. Clients have to certify convertor internal condition and authorize the contractor to continue with the catalyst loading. Quality assurance is critical during the loading process in the same manner as the complete catalyst handling process and our Quality Engineers are responsible for monitoring and controlling the quality of works during the entire process. Loading and levelling of ceramic balls and the catalyst as per loading diagram is monitored and controlled. The desired catalyst layers and measurements, depending on the type and age are pre-marked on the Convertor walls before loading begins. 

    As the Catalyst is hygroscopic in nature, exposure to the environment and moisture is must be limited and strictly avoided. Dickinson Group engages the client throughout the loading process ensuring even distribution of ceramic balls and catalyst on each bed. Our loading team move on ply wood boards to avoid catalyst breakage. We eliminate breakage, channeling and higher pressure drops due to loading errors. In conclusion our team prepares and submits the final loading diagram and report to the client upon completion of works.

    Quality Control

    Quality monitoring, control and assurance takes centre stage in all catalyst handling activities. Strict quality controls are observed aimed at zero error and satisfying the client.


    Safety is our highest priority. Catalyst Material Safety Data Sheets guides our team in the preparation of the essential safety consideration and controls. Strict and mandatory safety precautions are observed during the entire catalyst handing process. All the catalyst remains and residue are stored in specific containers as recommended by local and international health, safety & environmental regulations.

    Catalyst Supply and Stock Holding

    As part of its Catalyst Handling Services, Dickinson Group of Companies supplies and holds strategic catalyst stock for its valued clients in Central and Southern Africa. The company in alliance with a leading global catalyst manufacturer and supply partner has the capability to supply high quality catalyst for the various industries in sub-Saharan Africa including Zambia, DRC, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Angola, Mozambique and South Africa.

    Dickinson Group has a range of state of the art heavy duty industrial vacuum systems and catalyst screening equipment to meet the technical needs of the specialized catalyst handling. The equipment is well able to perform catalyst unloading, screening and loading service. With experienced, trained and specialized manpower, timely and professional service delivery. The equipment includes; environmentally friendly convertor catalyst vacuum and screening units with all other accessories.


    The company recently unveiled its latest innovation in catalyst handling; in-house designed and developed by its highly esteemed Research and Development Team. The state of the art machinery performs catalyst unloading, screening and re-loading equipment in combination with the KOK’s industrial vacuum machines. The equipment is made up of environmentally friendly convertor catalyst vacuum and screening units as well as other accessories. The equipment has undergone rigourous testing over the years and was cleared for industrial applications. The speed of this process is restricted to 2300 to 3000 litres per hour, as guided by industrial standards in order to avoid damage to the catalyst. Critical screen apertures are observed to achieve set catalyst screening characteristics and client specifications. 


    The company has undertaken large projects across the complete range of mining, metals smelting, mineral processing, chemical, refining and thermal power industries including:




    Tel: +27 (0) 16 421-3720
    Fax: +27 (0) 16 422-1038

    10 Smuts Avenue
    P.O. Box 63, Vereeniging
    1930. South Africa

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