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|The Imperial Smelting Process (ISP) for the simultaneous smelting of zinc and lead was developed at Avonmouth from the 1930's with activity intensifying in the late 1940's/early 1950's. Present operations are based around the No.4 furnace which was built in 1967. Development during the 1980's has been driven by the need to sustain operations at low metals prices and has been aimed at reducing manning whilst increasing output. Although hit by several major plant disruptions, progress has been steady, culminating in a ú10 million capital programme in 1988?89 to upgrade the operation. The most important technical developments, reflecting the needs of the 1990's have, in the sintering area, included improvements to feed conditioning and sinter quality, a 20% uprate in production capacity by debottlenecking, and pilot work leading to the installation of a Boliden-Norzink mercury removal plant. In the smelting area the ISP furnace has been rebuilt, with a redesigned bottom section to eliminate earlier operating sensitivities, and to achieve higher blowing capability, and at the zinc refinery the columns have been rearranged for more flexible operation and higher capacity.|