Stainless Steel “Permanent” Cathode Plates - Fixed Assets or Consumables?

Additonal authors: Aslin, N. J.. 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

Pranowo, A.

Glencore Technology (GT) has over four decades experience supplying stainless steel cathode plates (“cathode plates”) to the electro-refining and electro-winning industry. Cathode plates are typically the single biggest capital investment in a refinery. Refineries may view cathode plates as fixed asset or consumables depending on their operational characteristics. This paper examines the issue of cathode plate life and the strategies and philosophies used by different plants in the management of their cathode plate asset. Some plants operate with their original plates after more than 20 years. Others accept high turnover and regular maintenance as normal operating practice. Reference data are provided on plate life for various operating plants including benchmark plants achieving best-practice plate life and operating cost. The role of the electrode handling equipment on cathode plate longevity is also examined, including latest developments in Cathode Stripping Machine, robotic copper stripping, and full-automation production cranes. The ability to identify and manage the population of plates in service is also critical for maximising plate life and minimising its overall operating cost. This paper discusses a novel and unique RFID system for tracking and managing cathode plate inventory. INTRODUCTION Permanent cathode plates The adoption of permanent stainless steel cathode electrodes in the electro-refining of copper was the most significant process development since the first commercial electro-refineries were built in the late 19th century. It provided significant improvement over the labour intensive and complicated starter sheet system. Copper grows over the permanent cathode blade for a number of days before being stripped, and the permanent cathode can be returned straight back to cells for the next cathode cycle. Glencore Technology (formerly Mount Isa Mines (MIM), then Xstrata Technology) has been manufacturing permanent stainless steel cathode plates from the late 1970s with the birth of ISA PROCESS™, and the Kidd process that came one decade later. Invented and commercialised by Mount Isa Mines, the ISA PROCESS™ was first implemented into Copper Refineries Limited (CRL), Townsville, in 1978. The KIDD PROCESS by Falconbridge evolved in the 1980s and was first implemented into the Kidd Creek Tankhouse, both operations converting from traditional copper starter sheets.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019