Optimization Initiatives at Altonorte on the Path to Becoming a World Class Smelter

Additonal authors: Pierre, Beatrice. 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

Carrasco, Juan

Altonorte began as a concentrate roasting operation in 1988 under the name of Refimet. In 1993, a copper smelter was built with a design capacity of 203,000 tonnes per annum of concentrate. Since 2001, many technological advances have been made in Altonorte, where the biggest Noranda Reactor in the world is installed being the first Noranda Reactor reaching above one million tonnes of copper concentrates processed per annum. In 2013, Altonorte was acquired by Glencore. Recently due to various new environmental regulations in Chile, Altonorte has evolved to new standards of operation in order to reach the vision of becoming a World Class Smelter. This paper describes the path followed to improve safety, environmental performance, process capacity, reliability, and productivity. The foundation for the growth and success in Altonorte is our People. Employee engagement and branding of our cultural journey is what allows Altonorte to face the future with the certainty of becoming a World Class Smelter. INTRODUCTION Altonorte is located in Antofagasta, the mining capital in the north of Chile and is the last smelter built in Chile practically completed with second hand equipment. The biggest technological change in Altonorte occurred during the phase 3 expansion in 2003, where the old Reverberatory furnace was shut down and replaced by the biggest Noranda Reactor installed in the world. The vessel measures 5.3 m × 26m. ºAdditionally, this project contemplated a new rotary dryer, three (3) new Peirce Smith converters, new anode furnaces and a new Acid plant. The nominal capacity was to treat 816.000 tons of new concentrate per year. In 2008, a new expansion phase was implemented where a new double absorption acid plant replaced the oldest acid plant. Bottlenecks such as blowing capacity and oxygen availability were solved installing a new air blower and a new contract was negotiated with our oxygen supplier to increase oxygen availability up to 683 tpd. This improvement defined the current nominal capacity of 1.100.000 ton of new concentrate per year. Current process description All concentrates are received by trucks directly from domestic mines or from the Antofagasta international port in cases of imported concentrates; the concentrate warehouse has a capacity of 25 kt where the blend is prepared to feed the smelter.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019