Redoubling Platinum Group Metal Smelting Intensity — Operational Challenges and Solutions

  • Rodney Hundermark
  • Lloyd Nelson
  • Bertus de Villiers
  • July Ndlovu
  • Diale Mokwena
  • Phillimon Mukumbe
  • Bart Pieterse
  • Whitey Seyanund
  • Paul van Manen
Conference paper

Abstract

The 2003 redoubling in power to 68MW on the Polokwane Smelter furnace represented a significant intensification in platinum group metal (PGM) smelting. Combined with onerous ‘green’ PGM concentrate smelting requirements, this yielded conditions unusually corrosive to copper coolers and refractories. This presented unexpected operational and design challenges to reliable crucible operation and maintenance.

Combined with specific operational control intervention, development of protective coatings has led to the life of water-cooled copper components improving from 9 to 40 months. The furnace matte endwall was extended in 2010 to address accelerated wear of refractories and the potential risk for contact of copper components by superheated matte. An 18 month planned endwall rebuild cycle has been demonstrated (versus catastrophic failure within 9 months).

Finally, benefits including lower energy consumption, improved metal recoveries and higher productivity resulting from operational and in-house design developments will be described, that justify “Celebrating the Mega-scale” in PGM smelting.

Keywords

PGM smelting electric furnace 

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Copyright information

© TMS (The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rodney Hundermark
    • 1
  • Lloyd Nelson
    • 1
  • Bertus de Villiers
    • 1
  • July Ndlovu
    • 1
  • Diale Mokwena
    • 1
  • Phillimon Mukumbe
    • 1
  • Bart Pieterse
    • 1
  • Whitey Seyanund
    • 1
  • Paul van Manen
    • 1
  1. 1.Anglo American PlatinumJohannesburgSouth Africa

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