La Caridad FSF modernization finished in late 2013 and was a turnkey project from Outotec consisting of a complete demolition and rebuild of the flash furnace. The new process equipment installations included Outotec loss-in-weight feeders, air slide, concentrate burner, Sentinel headers and cooling elements, all monitored and controlled by an Outotec supplied automation package with PROSCON PCS, Process Advisor, and Sentinel integrated into one powerful system. Further modification and installation work included the installation of a new concentrate bin and cooling element piping system under Outotec’s guidance. Additionally it included revamping projects to adapt surrounding equipment such as the flash dryer and the waste heat boiler.
Smelter tour and improvements with the new concentrate burner
During the plant visit the 90 visitors were divided into smaller groups. We visited the modernized flash furnace, control room, converter hall and anode casting area. The tour was very interesting and many questions were asked. For everyone involved in project it was a pleasure to hear how La Caridad smelter has improved their process performance with the furnace upgrade and process equipment.
The first clearly noticeable difference is the radical increase in oxygen efficiency when compared to the old feeding and combustion system. This enabled La Caridad smelter to increase their concentrate feed rate to the FSF by 10 %. By better utilizing the energy from the combustion of concentrate, we can blend the concentrate with a higher percentage of reverts while natural gas consumption is down by about 30 %.
The second difference is the superior control accuracy: Matte grade can now be maintained very stable although the concentrate blend comes with very high and variable content of sulfur, reverts and complex materials. Increased stability and accuracy ultimately results in lower copper content in FSF slag, which will considerably reduce load on downstream processing.
After the plant visit we headed to ‘El Pinacote’ Ballroom in Nacozari de García. The hosts had organized a lunch with typical Mexican food. Accompanied with the delicious meal we got to enjoy a Mexican Folk show presented to us by the local high schoolers and Mariachi ensemble.
No doubt everyone was overwhelmed by the warm hospitality extended by our Mexican hosts. It was truly an unforgettable day.