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Jul 5, 2017

Flash Smelting Congress 2014 - La Caridad visit

On Tuesday morning, November 18th, 2014, we had a very early wake-up as we left Las Vegas at 4 am to visit Mexicana de Cobre (MDC) La Caridad smelter of Grupo Mexico in Sonora, Mexico. Flying via Hermosillo we landed around 10 am to the plantrunway from which we had bus transportation to an auditorium, which in reality was a nicely decorated rod plant warehouse. The flash smelting family members were warmly welcomed by our hosts with nice speeches by the Director of the Metallurgical complex Servando Cantú and the Smelter Manager Eduardo Fernández Nava.
Servando Cantú

FSF modernization

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.

Mexican lunch

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.

Servando Cantú
Director of the Metallurgical complex Servando Cantú giving a welcoming speech
Flash Smelting Congress 2014
Mexican Mariachi enseble welcoming the Smelting family to 'El Pinacote' ballroom in Nacozari de García
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