The Past 70 Years of Flash Smelting
Additonal authors: Kojo, I.. 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
The year 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of Flash Smelting. The technology was operated on industrial scale for the first time at the Outokumpu Harjavalta copper smelter in Finland in 1949. Since then Flash Smelting technology, now owned and developed by Outotec Oyj and the first plant, now owned by Boliden Harjavalta Oy, have been evolving throughout history by optimizing the process for various feeds and raw-materials, as well as through developing the equipment and operating practices. Even though sustainability was not a popular theme during the first days of Flash Smelting, it has still been the key principle in guiding the development. This is well proven by the wide adoption of Flash Smelting for the processing of copper and nickel concentrates, mostly due to its ability to fulfil the economic and resource efficiency criteria demanded by its operators. This paper describes the history and improvements of the Outotec® Flash Smelting process by looking into the early days of operation and how the development of the process and equipment has taken place over time as a joint effort between the technology provider and the users of the technology.
In the 1940s, Outokumpu Oy refined the concentrate produced in the Outokumpu mine into metallic copper initially in Imatra, and later from 1945 to 1949 in Harjavalta, based on the most modern electrical melting process of the world at that time. After the war, Finland lost a significant part of its hydropower production, and due to the increasing use of electricity, the availability of electricity weakened, and the price rose. To maintain Outokumpu's profitability, it was forced to look for a melting solution that was not based on electricity.
Copper 2019, COM2019