ELATH (May. 21)
A breakdown in pumps supplied by West German firms for processing are in the fabled King Solomon copper mines at Timna has resulted in a complete suspension of work at the 26, 000,000-pound installations, and repairs will take at least six months, it was revealed today.
The Israel press revealed the situation several weeks ago, attributing it to internal frictions allegedly caused by the dismissal of Chief Engineer Beth-Esh, who supervised construction of the plant. Officials of the Israel Development Ministry responded with either denials or assurances that damage to machinery had been minor.
The pumps were supplied by West German firms which have business relations with the Dor Oliver firm, an American engineering company which undertook supervision and counseling services on construction of the plant to the point of start of actual production.
The Israel Mining Corporation, which accused the West German firms of responsibility, said that both American and Israel experts warned that the pumps were deficient but that the Germans insisted their equipment was expertly done and refused to make any changes.
When test runs of the machinery proved that the pumps’shortcomings were a major obstacle to production, the Dor Oliver firm agreed to repair the machinery for which it was responsible while the German firms sent their experts to Israel to handle repair of their pumps. Meanwhile 250 production workers have been kept on maintenance activities, pending the start of production scheduled to yield some 7, 000 tons of copper annually.