Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy]]> vol. 110 num. 12 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>12th International Ferroalloys Congress: Future sustainability</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>New Economic World Order</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Towards sustainability in ferroalloy production</b>]]> Ferroalloy production is an energy-intensive industrial sector with significant CO2 emissions. In this paper the current situation in ferroalloy processes is discussed from the standpoint of global environmental issues, trends and development. Progress and data of ferroalloys production are frequently compared with the steel industry, which is a closely related sector and the main user of ferroalloys. Emission factors of processes and electricity production are examined as well as possibilities and future scenarios of how to diminish CO2 emissions. As a part of this study a questionnaire was submitted to experts in the field of ferroalloys worldwide to survey opinions on the ferroalloy industry today and in the near future (2020). Eighteen questions concerning raw materials, energy, environmental aspects, by-products and economic aspects were responded to by seventeen experts, the answers were analysed and conclusions were drawn. <![CDATA[<b>Development in the design and construction of DC arc smelting furnaces</b>]]> The aspect of sustainability of ferroalloy processes has long been a serious matter for consideration in many of the world's industrialized countries. A number of countries can be named where ferroalloy plants that were once flourishing, have all but disappeared. One of the most important factors playing a role in this type of occurrence is the cost and availability of quality raw materials. Given that all natural resources will be depleted with time, users are compelled to develop new processes that are sustainable in the changing environment. The DC arc smelting furnace is one such process that has proved itself, and has gained increasing popularity over the past two decades. This process, amongst other benefits, directly addresses the use of more readily available and more affordable raw materials in ferroalloy production. Since early in the new millennium, GLPS has been involved in various studies for different clients of furnaces for the production of ferroalloys. Two of these recent studies have culminated in the design, construction and commissioning of DC arc furnaces for the production of ferrochrome. One of these furnaces is a 10 MW unit at Mogale Alloys, and the other a 60 MW unit at the Middelburg plant of Samancor Chrome. This paper discusses the approach taken in the design and construction of these two furnaces, which, although varying significantly in size and capacity, are very similar in many other aspects of their design. <![CDATA[<b>Low cost ferroalloy extraction in DC-arc furnace at Middleburg Ferrochrome</b>]]> Middleburg Ferrochrome (MFC), a company in Samancor Chrome, commissioned a new ferrochrome smelter in March 2009. This is a 60 MW DC-arc furnace with a DC power supply for the smelting of Transvaal chromite ore fines. With the benefit of 12 years' experience with this technology while operating a 44 MW DC-arc furnace, MFC mitigated all known challenges and considered up-scaling risk in the new plant, which had a rapid ramp-up to full power in Q2 of 2009. Good operating practices, as made possible by robust equipment selection, including a thyristor rectifier set of proven technology, and operation with optimal slag chemistry, leads to a safe and effective plant operation. With the optimized furnace design and a correctly sized power conditioning system, using only standard (static) harmonic filters and a correctly sized smoothing reactor, the arc furnace is not a 'dirty load' for the utility, staying well within IEC limits for power quality. A patented arc compensation system is installed and allows for full arc position control (to compensate for magnetic field induced arc deflection) so that a symmetrical crucible is maintained, significantly benefiting refractory life. The principal benefits gained from the MFC process is the fact that ore fines are processed, without metallurgical coke, and higher chrome recoveries are achieved compared to other smelting technologies when using a DC open arc for smelting. <![CDATA[<b>Implementation of the first commercial scale DC smelter for ferronickel production from low grade laterite ores-technology building blocks and lessons learned</b>]]> Mechel, a large, integrated steel, stainless steel, and ferroalloy producer in Russia is committed to upgrading its facilities to world class pyrometallurgical process and environmental practice. Yuzhural Nickel currently uses shaft furnaces to produce a matte containing iron, nickel and traces of cobalt. This rather old technology is thermally inefficient and is characterized by high operating costs. Mechel has investigated suitable equipment and processes to upgrade the plant, and awarded a contract for the construction of a 12 MW DC smelter, located near the town of Orsk, to Bateman Engineering Projects in June 2008. The selection of DC furnace technology for laterite smelting can be considered as a strategic highlight for the pyrometallurgical treatment of low-grade lateritic ores, and could be the first industrial-scale implementation of this technology. This project has been designed to achieve multiple goals including the demonstration of the process and associated equipment technology at commercial scale, to confirm the scale-up design parameters of the forthcoming 2 x 90 MW, twin electrode DC furnaces, and to prove the environmental emission superiority of closed furnaces. It also provides a valuable operator training platform. This paper deals with the process design, key technology building blocks and design features which have been incorporated to produce a pyrometallurgical vessel capable of (i) resisting slag superheat and chemical aggressiveness, (ii) process fine material without pre-agglomeration, (iii) achieve high nickel recoveries and (iv) being tolerant to the variations in chemical composition of laterite ore. The approach to increasing campaign lives between partial and complete rebuilds, through the use of composite furnace module (CFM) technology originally developed and patented by the University of Melbourne, is also followed in more detail. Unfortunately, results from hot commissioning and lessons learned from initial operation are not available because the project completion has been delayed due to the worldwide downturn in demand for commodities. <![CDATA[<b>Mathematical and computational modelling of the dynamic behaviour of direct current plasma arcs</b>]]> The problem of direct-current plasma arc behaviour, interaction, and dynamics is considered in the context of metallurgical DC arc furnace applications. Particular attention is paid to the transient flow behaviour of arc systems. A mathematical formulation of the physics used to describe the arc system is presented, and includes the spatial and temporal evolution of fluid flow, heat transfer, and electromagnetism. Based on this formulation, a numerical model is developed using a finite difference approach on a regular cartesian grid in both two and three dimensions, with a special focus on robust stability, high resolution modelling, and high performance. A collection of results produced using the numerical model to study pilot plant-scale furnaces is then presented. These address a range of process and design variables and their effect on the numerical model's results. Where possible, the qualitative behaviour of the model is compared to available experimental data. A number of novel effects and phenomena are seen in the dynamic behaviour of the DC plasma arc model for both single and multiple arc systems, which may lead to improved understanding, control, and manipulation of such systems where they occur in industrial applications. <![CDATA[<b>Theoretical and practical aspects of Cr(VI) in the South African ferrochrome industry</b>]]> The production of ferrochrome alloy from chromium bearing chromite ores is conducted at high temperature under highly reducing conditions. However, albeit completely unintended, it is impossible to completely exclude oxygen from all high temperature process steps, with the corresponding possibility arising for the generation of small amounts of Cr(VI) species. Certain Cr(VI) species are regarded as a carcinogenic, with specifically airborne exposure to these Cr(VI) species being associated with cancer of the respiratory system. With approximately three-quarters of the world's viable chromite ore reserves located in South Africa, and annual ferrochrome production approaching almost half of total annual global output, aspects of Cr(VI) generation and control are of particular relevance and importance to the local industry, and naturally to the global industry at large. This paper seeks to examine theoretical and practical aspects associated with Cr(VI) generation (based largely on experience within the local South African industry, but considered to be generally encountered in the broader global industry context), together with mitigating measures that can be applied within the context of the production processes. From the discussions it is clear that significant improvements in various Cr(VI)-related aspects have been made by the South African ferrochrome industry. However, it is also evident that several areas of uncertainty still exist, which require further research in order to better quantify risks and enhance the efficacy of mitigating steps. <![CDATA[<b>Refining of charge chrome: A study of some products and applications</b>]]> By implementing a converter downstream of the reduction furnace it is possible to broaden the product range significantly. The converter can also successfully be used to strip furnace slag from chromium oxide. Some process alternatives and their economical, practical and environmental implications are studied using process models developed based on UHT's long experience in stainless steelmaking, stainless steel process control and charge chrome refining. <![CDATA[<b>Ferroalloy design, ferroalloy selection and utilization optimization with particular focus on stainless steel materials</b>]]> The ferroalloy market is characterized by a very long communication distance between the consumer and the producer. This has created a situation where it has been difficult to change ferroalloy properties. In this paper different FeNi and FeCrcompositions are discussed and their merits for stainless steelmakers in different situations are compared using the process models applied at Outokumpus Avesta works and Acerinox's Columbus operation.