A Contemporary Approach to an Age-Old Process, Using Robotics to Strip Starter Sheets for Use in a Conventional Copper Refinery

Additonal authors: Madariaga, Rodrigo. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:

Proceedings, Vol. Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019, 2019

Morris, Tracy T.

The practice of stripping copper starter sheets from titanium blanks to be used in a conventional electrolytic tankhouse has been around since the advent of Electrometallurgy. Historically it has been done manually, utilizing many people to produce in some cases thousands of starter sheets per day. Some other conventional tankhouses have successfully converted to using mechanical means to strip starter sheets or have made the switch to permanent cathodes and although robotics have been around for quite some time they have not been used to strip starter sheets until recently. The Amarillo Copper Refinery began using robotics to strip several years ago and the details to how this came about and how the robots work will be described. INTRODUCTION ASARCO LLC (Asarco) was organized in 1899 as the American Smelting and Refining Company. Originally a consolidation of several lead-silver smelting companies, it evolved over the years into an integrated producer of primary non-ferrous metals, including copper, lead and zinc and associated co- products (Marcosson, 1949). Grupo México, S.A.B. de C.V acquired Asarco in 1999. Today, Asarco is a vertically integrated producer of primary refined copper and associated co-products such as gold, silver, molybdenum, selenium and tellurium. Asarco operates three open-pit mines and mills and two solvent extraction-electrowinning (SX-EW) plants all in Arizona plus a copper smelter in Arizona and a copper refinery in Texas. Figure 1 illustrates how the copper metal comes out of the ground at the mine and ends up as a refined product at the refinery The copper refinery in Texas is known as the Amarillo Copper Refinery (ACR) and is located in Amarillo, Texas. It was built in 1975 to replace 3 other aging refineries and was designed to produce 550,000 tons (500,000 MT) of refined copper per year using conventional starter sheet technology. At the time it was commissioned it was the largest tankhouse in the world at just under 1/2 miles long under one roof.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019