Evolution of the Large Copper Smelter — 1800s to 2013

  • P. J. Mackey


Over the course of Dr. Robertson’s career, the ferrous and non-ferrous plants have seen enormous changes in technology and increases in plant capacity, essentially amounting to a “technological revolution”. In iron and steel, the “mega” blast furnace of some 6,000 m3 working volume is now standard (~10,000 tonnes (mt) of pig iron/day). Similar huge changes in process technology and plant size have occurred in the non-ferrous industry. As an example, the fuel-fired reverberatory furnace, once the mainstay of the copper industry, has disappeared — replaced by large capacity flash and bath smelting technologies. The energy consumption per unit mass of metal produced has also been reduced considerably. Our understanding of the thermodynamics and mechanisms of metallurgical reactions, a field to which Dr. Robertson has significantly contributed, has made great strides. This paper reviews these changes with particular reference to the copper smelting industry, providing also comments on expected future trends.


Copper smelting technology Top Submerged Lance ISASMELT™ flash smelting bath smelting Noranda Process El Teniente Converter Continuous converting SKS future trends 


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. J. Mackey
    • 1
  1. 1.P.J. Mackey Technology Inc.Kirkland, QCCanada

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