Decarbonisation of the Outotec® Ausmelt Process

Additonal authors: Matusewicz, Robert. 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

Wood, Jacob

The Outotec® Ausmelt Top Submerged Lance (TSL) Process has achieved widespread commercial acceptance over the past 40 years for the processing of copper, nickel, lead, tin, zinc and precious metal bearing feeds. The continual development and evolution of the technology during this period has resulted in a more intense smelting process with higher energy efficiency and lower operating costs. More recently, considerable effort has been invested in decarbonisation of the process through improvements such as increased oxygen usage, dry feed injection and use of low-carbon auxiliary fuels. This paper covers a number of these recent advances to the technology and highlights their impacts on energy consumption and CO2 emissions for a range of non-ferrous smelting flowsheets. INTRODUCTION Relentless demand for improvements in the profitability, safety and environmental performance of non-ferrous smelting plants has driven a continual development and evolution of processing technologies in this industry. In response to these demands, a number of bath smelting technologies have emerged over the past 40 years and have been implemented for the treatment of primary and secondary feedstocks. The Outotec® Ausmelt Top Submerged Lance (TSL) Process (henceforth Ausmelt Process) is one such bath smelting technology which has been widely adopted in a large number of greenfield projects and brownfield plant modernisations (Wood & Hughes, 2016). Emissions of CO2 from the production of non-ferrous metals represent approximately 4-5% of global totals (Rankin, 2012), comparable with the almost 10% attributed to iron and steel production. Despite significant improvements in the energy efficiency of modern smelting technologies (Coursol, Mackey, Kapusta & Cardona Valencia, 2015), primarily through increased oxygen usage, further innovation and development is still required to address their reliance on fossil fuels such as coke and coal. Transformation of the non-ferrous smelting industry to low-carbon technologies and process flowsheets is lagging behind the power and transport sectors, which have witnessed significant growth in clean/renewable energy technologies to reduce CO2 emissions and address the issue of anthropogenic climate change (IRENA, 2018; IEA, 2018).
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019