Nickel flash smelting

Outotec® Nickel Flash Smelting Process is a benchmark nickel-smelting method and a clear global leader in the world’s primary nickel production from sulfide raw materials. Efficiency and improved environmental and in-plant hygiene have been the guiding principles in the development the process. Best Available Technique

Advantages:

  • High recovery of nickel and other valuable metals (copper, cobalt, PGMs)
  • Low investment and operating costs for the smelter and acid plant
  • Capability to treat different qualities of sulfide raw materials with variable feed rates
  • High sulfur recovery, continuous high-strength SO2 stream from Flash Furnace to the acid plant
  • Improved in-plant hygiene due to compact equipment 

 

Process overview

In Nickel Flash Smelting technology, sulfide nickel concentrate is processed in the Outotec® Flash Smelting Furnace to produce nickel matte and slag. The matte is transported to the Peirce-Smith converters where it is blown to high-grade matte. The metal values in the smelting and converting slags are recovered in the electric furnace as nickel matte. The matte is circulated to the Peirce-Smith converters.

The dried feed mixture, oxygen-enriched process air and distribution air are mixed in the concentrate burner to assure an even distribution of the feed in the reaction shaft suspension. As the dried charge flows downwards in the reaction shaft, the concentrate particles dissociate, ignite and undergo controlled partial oxidation generating a large amount of heat, which results in the melting of the material into fine droplets. In the settler, the immiscible slag and matte phases separate and form two layers according to their specific densities.

The process gas flows upward through the uptake shaft and then to a heat recovery boiler for cooling. Part of the flue dust is separated from the gas stream in the boiler. The gas flows onward to an electrostatic precipitator where the remaining fine dust is recovered. The dust collected under the boiler and precipitator is returned back to the furnace.

The produced slag is tapped from the Flash Furnace and directed along with the converter slag into an electric slag cleaning furnace before being granulated and discarded. Reduction is carried out batch-wise using coke as a reducing agent.  During the settling period, reduced metal droplets and mechanically trapped matte droplets are settled through the slag layer to the bottom of the electric furnace to form the matte layer. Immiscible slag components with a much lower density stay at the top of the bath and form the cleaned slag layer.

The mattes obtained from the flash smelting furnace and from the electric Outotec® Slag Cleaning Furnace are converted in Peirce-Smith converters with oxygen-enriched air, which is blown through tuyeres into the converter. For slag forming purposes, some silica flux is added. The produced high-grade matte is granulated and further treated in the refinery. The waste slag is also granulated and transferred to the slag disposal area.

Related process equipment

  • Outotec® Flash Furnace
  • Outotec® Slag Cleaning Furnace
  • Outotec® Cooling System
  • Outotec® Cooling Elements
  • Outotec® Feeding System
  • Outotec® Air Slide
  • Outotec® Concentrate and Matte Burner
  • Outotec® Auxiliary Burners
  • Outotec® Drying and Homogenisation
  • Outotec® Anode Furnace
  • Outotec® Granulation
  • Outotec® Launders
  • Outotec® Heat Recover Boiler

 

Control system products

  • Outotec® Furnace Monitoring
  • Outotec® Advisor
  • Outotec® Process Automation
  • Outotec® Sentinel

Outotec® Nickel Flash Smelting Process

Full integration of process and automation design and knowledge is vitally important to ensure a smooth and optimized process operation, minimized risks of production ramp-up delays and downtime periods and to guarantee high health, environment and safety standards.

It is important in the automation of smelting processes to include the ability to identify disturbances, stabilize the process and to gain an overall picture of production. Balances between departments involved in operations, from the blending of different raw materials to casting, are difficult to see and control, mainly due to long delays. Outotec® Automation System provides a long and short-term view of all of these processes.

For the pyrometallurgical processes, maintaining stable process by long-term production planning and proactive identification and elimination of disturbances is key to success, for which Outotec® Automation System is the answer. Outotec has several decades of experience in the incorporation of metallurgical process and control expertise into a package that favours the everyday work of customers. Outotec Proscon® Pyro enables not only constant and smooth management, monitoring and control of the process but also provides the most cost efficient tools and environment to further develop, optimize and maximize the process performance, maintenance and operability. These benefits are gained with high equipment performance and efficiency, ease of operation and maintenance, low consumption of utilities and consumables, fast discovery of factors causing disturbances and a high and traceable quality of production.

The lifecycle of the Outotec Proscon® delivery does not end with commissioning. Outotec can provide a productive long-term partnership, by training customers’ personnel to take care of the routine maintenance activities of process control and by providing remote support “virtually on-site”. With Outotec Proscon®, the customer can achieve a cost-effective way to ensure the long-term availability of process control and also to develop an ability to carry out cost-effective consultation in the analysis and optimization of process performance together with Outotec.

Proscon® Pyro is the best way to transfer our metallurgical know-how and experience to our customers. The solution includes a modern process control system, based on world-class automation systems and components, process instrumentation and process electrification with the required services. The provision of automation, process design and project management from a single organization removes expensive and restrictive interfaces during implementation. Through our remote diagnostic online service, Outotec's metallurgical and automation expertise is available throughout all stages of the production life cycle.

Outotec® On-line Process Advisor enables on-line and easy dynamic mass and heat balance modeling for the Outotec® Flash Smelting Furnace and electric Slag Cleaning Furnaces. The On-line Process Advisor calculates new operating parameters from the current operating data for the furnace, and transfers information between the process control model, the process control system and the laboratory on-line. The On-line Process Advisor includes an easy-to- use user interface and process flow-sheet printing options.

Outotec® Smelter Information Management System (SIMS) is a new and modern platform for data collection, reporting and management, assisting in the integration of machines, monitoring and process control. Significant benefits are gained in increasing the energy efficiency, product quality and tracing as well as improving maintenance and safety.

Benefits of Outotec Proscon® Pyro

  • Link between process know-how and automation
  • Process operated as designed
  • Rapid production ramp-up
  • Continuous and stable process
  • Maximized metal recoveries and minimized metal losses
  • Integration process, machinery and maintenance information
  • Automation system pre-tested before installation at plant
  • Smooth equipment performance
  • Safety of operation, equipment and personnel
  • Easy and convenient operation
  • Possibility for remote diagnostic services

Automation products by Outotec:

  • Outotec Proscon® Pyro
  • Process control system
  • Process instrumentation
  • Process electrification
  • Outotec® On-line Process Advisor
  • Outotec® Smelter Information Management System
  • Advanced reporting of quality, efficiency and machinery

Since Outotec® Flash Smelting Process makes use of the reaction heat of concentrate, no external fuel is needed. Owing to low volume of process gas and compact and sealed equipment, a total of 99.9 % of the sulfur can be captured.

Best available technology

Flash Smelting has been awarded the ASM historical Landmark Status and rated as a BAT (Best Available Technique) production method by the European Union because of its energy-saving and environmental benefits. Outotec® Flash Smelting combined with Kennecott-Outotec® Flash Converting is the cleanest smelting method available.

The Flash Smelting–Flash Converting process produces copper efficiently with low energy consumption and with low equivalent carbon dioxide emissions. In the Flash Smelting–Flash Converting process, only a small amount of fossil fuel is needed, thus the direct greenhouse gas emissions of the smelter are small compared to conventional processes, where fossil fuels are used for smelting. The smelting takes place in closed furnaces and all the gases are collected efficiently in the acid plant in a continuous gas stream. Heat recovered from process off-gases can be used in other process sections or for electricity generation, reducing the need for additional power plants and minimizing green house gas emissions.

In Flash Smelting–Flash Converting, the process flue dust is recovered efficiently from the heat recovery boilers and electrostatic precipitators, and is normally circulated back to the furnaces, so no dust is emitted into the atmosphere nor accumulated at the plant as a result of the process.

The discard slag is in stable form and is not considered to cause any environmental emissions, even when these byproducts are used in road construction or in other land-filling applications.Safety is a very important aspect in favor of Flash Converting. The highly automated system without hot metal cranes and ladles and a high amount of fugitive gases increases workplace safety and hygiene. High degrees of automation also decrease the labor requirements of flash converting.

Xiangguang Copper using Outotec Flash Smelting–Flash Converting technology received the highest environmental award from the Chinese government:“National Ten Key Environment Friendly Project”in 2008.

 

Customer

Location

Type

Start-up

Rudarsko Topioicarski Basen (RTB)

Bor, Serbia Cu Smelting 2013

Jinchuan Non-ferrous Metals Co

Fangchenggang, China Cu Smelting 2012

Jinchuan Non-ferrous Metals Co

Fangchenggang, China Cu Converting 2012

Zijin Copper Co.Ltd.

Shanghang, China

Cu Smelting

2011

Tongling Non-Ferrous Metals Group Co.Ltd. 

China

Cu Smelting

2011

Tongling Non-Ferrous Metals Group Co.Ltd.

China

Cu Converting

2011

National Iranian Copper Industries

Sarcheshmeh, Iran

Cu Smelting

 

Konkola Copper Mines Plc.

Chingola, Zambia

Direct to Blister

2008

Jiangxi Copper Corporation

Guixi, China

Cu Smelting

2007

KGHM Polska Miedz S.A.

Glogow, Poland

Direct to Blister

 

Yanggu Xiangguang Copper Co.

Yanggu Xiangguang, China

Cu Converting

2007

Yanggu Xiangguang Copper Co.

Yanggu Xiangguang, China

Cu Smelting

2007

National Iranian Copper Industries

Khatoon Abad, Iran

Cu Smelting

2004

(Southern Peru Copper Corporation)

(Ilo, Peru)

(Cu converting)

 

(Southern Peru Copper Corporation)

(Ilo, Peru)

(Cu smelting)

 

Boliden Mineral AB

Rönnskär, Sweden

Cu Smelting

2000

Western Mining Corporation

Olympic Dam, Australia

Cu Smelting

1999

Mineração Serra da Fortaleza

Fortaleza, Brazil 

Ni Smelting

1998

Indo-Gulf Fertilisers & Chemical

Gujarat, India

Cu Smelting

1998

Jinlong Copper

Tongling, China

Cu Smelting

1997

Kennecott Utah Copper

Salt Lake City, USA

Cu Converting

1995

Kennecott Utah Copper

Salt Lake City, USA

Cu Smelting

1995

Cia Minera Disputada de las Condes

Chagres, Chile

Cu Smelting

1995

Jinchuan Non-ferrous Metals

Jinchang, China

Ni Smelting

1992

Western Mining Corporation

Olympic Dam, Australia 

Cu Smelting

1988

Magma Copper Company

San Manuel, USA

Cu Smelting

1988

Codelco

Chuquicamata, Chile

Cu Smelting

1988

Umicore

Srednogorie, Bulgaria

Cu Smelting

1987

Mexicana de Cobre

El Tajo, Mexico

Cu Smelting

1986

Jiangxi Copper

Guixi, China

Cu Smelting

1985

Philippine Associated Smelting & Refining

Isabel, the Philippines

Cu Smelting

1983

Caraíba Metais

Camacari, Brazil

Cu Smelting

1982

Norilsk Mining & Metallurgical Co

Norilsk, Russia

Cu Smelting

1981

Norilsk Mining & Metallurgical Co

Norilsk, Russia

Ni Smelting

1981

LG-Metal Corporation 

Onsan, South Korea

Cu Smelting

1979

Kombinat Górniczo-Hutniczy Miedz

Glogow, Poland

Cu Smelting

1978

Gécamines

Luilu, Zaire

Cu Smelting

 

Phelps Dodge

Playas, USA

Cu Smelting

1976

Atlantic Copper

Huelva, Spain

Cu Smelting

1975

Hindustan Copper

Khetri, India

Cu Smelting

1974

Bamangwato Concessions Ltd

Selebi-Phikwe, Botswana

Ni Smelting

1973

Peko Wallsend Metals

Tennant Creek, Australia

Cu Smelting

1973

Karadeniz Bakir Isletmeleri

Samsun, Turkey

Cu Smelting

1973

Nippon Mining

Saganoseki, Japan

Cu Smelting

1972

Western Mining Corporation

 Kalgoorlie, Australia

Ni Smelting

1972

Nippon Mining

Hitachi, Japan 

Cu Smelting

1972

Norddeutsche Affinerie AG

Hamburg, Germany

Cu Smelting

1972

Hibi Kyodo Smelting

Tamano, Japan

Cu Smelting

1972

Peko Wallsend Metals

Mount Morgan, Australia

Cu Smelting

1972

Hindustan Copper

Ghatsila, India

Cu smelting

1971

Sumitomo Metal Mining

Toyo, Japan

Cu Smelting

1971

Nippon Mining

Saganoseki, Japan

Cu Smelting

1970

Dowa Mining

Kosaka, Japan

Cu Smelting

1967

Combinatul Chimico Metalurgic

 Baia Mare, Romania

Cu Smelting

1966

Outokumpu Oy

Kokkola, Finland

Pyrite Smelting

1962

Furukawa

Ashio, Japan

Cu Smelting

1956

Outokumpu Oy

Harjavalta, Finland

Ni Smelting

1959

Outokumpu Oy

Harjavalta, Finland

Cu Smelting

1949