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Jun 16, 2021

Flash Smelter Modernization Increases Availability and Capacity at the Nornickel’s Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant in Russia

Metso Outotec rose to the occasion by providing a detailed design while delivering equipment & site services under an extremely tight implementation schedule. This resulted in the plant significantly improving their process & increasing nominal feed rate of the furnace.
flash smelter

Nornickel is Russia’s leading metals and mining company. It is the number one manufacturer of palladium and refined nickel, and one of the biggest platinum and copper producers. The Group also produces cobalt, rhodium, silver, gold, iridium, ruthenium, selenium, tellurium, and sulphur.

Located in Norilsk, Russia, the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant named after B.I. Kolesnikov processes nickel-pyrrhotite concentrate and metal bearing products from Talnakh Concentrator, nickel concentrate from Norilsk Concentrator and pyrrhotite concentrate producing converter matte and elemental sulphur. The Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant has been the backbone of Nornickel’s production capacity. It processes 70% of all the volume of nickel mined by Norilsk Nickel.

Built at the former airfield’s site, it was a major industrial project in the USSR in the 1970s. In 1981, the plant produced its very first metal. Since commissioning of the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, production of non-ferrous metals by Nornickel has increased by 5 times. It has preserved its significance as one the major nickel producing sites in the world. Outokumpu, the predecessor of Outotec, delivered a unique Flash Smelting Furnace technology that proved to be incredibly efficient for producing copper and nickel. This process allowed for high energy efficiency and on-line availability.

Modernization of the unique Flash Smelting Furnace line 1, Dealing with low-heat value and more complex concentrates, Very tight implementation schedule

The hope to overcome their various challenges

Norilsk Nickel has been seeking ways to improve the production process and decrease environmental footprint in Norilsk by introducing technological improvements in various forms. Since the furnaces are the main equipment at the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, the decision was made to modernize the unique Flash Smelting Furnace line 1. Metso Outotec – at the time of the modernization Outotec - had the know-how to improve it.

The upgrade of the furnace was also aimed at combating current challenges of dealing with low-heat value and more complex concentrates. The plant plays a key role in Nornickel’s production, therefore the shutdown had to be minimized. This resulted in a very tight implementation schedule​.

Furnace modernization plan and pre-planning, Plant performance assessment, site audit, industrial scale tests, process evaluation, Detail design, delivery of equipment & site services
flash smelter modernization

The Metso Outotec delivery

To comply with the tight schedule, forces were joined with the customer to create a furnace modernization plan as well as to pre-plan the activities one year in advance. Metso Outotec performed plant performance assessment, site audit, industrial scale tests and process evaluation prior to the start of modernization. ​

The delivery also included design, proprietary equipment, installation and commissioning supervision for the Nadezhda Nickel Flash Smelting Furnace 1 in Norilsk. The equipment package consisted of concentrate Loss-in-Weight feeders, silica feeders, high intensity concentrate burner, cooling elements, Process advisor, Proscon automation and Sentinel Furnace monitoring system.


The implementation process

Complete furnace cooling and enhanced integrity
The flash smelting furnace reaction shaft was equipped with double transition cooling elements, settler and reaction shaft roofs were completely cooled with BIC (Bricks Implanted in Copper) cooling elements, settler walls were furnished with ICE (Integrated Cooling Elements) elements and some extra cooling elements were also added to the up-take shaft. The main steel structure was stiffened with thicker buck-stays and with higher compression force springs.

New feeding equipment
A set of two Loss-In-Weight feeders were replaced with new ones having higher capacity. Two new silica belt feeders were also installed. The existing flue dust Loss-In-Weight feeder was connected to the new collector chain conveyor.

Latest design of the High Intensity Concentrate burner
The concentrate burner was replaced with the latest model, offering higher capacity and new features such as annular oxygen, continuous cast surrounding block and a larger distribution cone. Air slides were equipped with nitrogen carrier gas to prevent any pre combustion due to the elemental sulfur present in the feed mixture.

Natural gas burners
The furnace settler and reaction shaft were furnished with 20 pieces of NG-burners in order to be able to heat up the furnace smoothly and to ensure uniform temperature distribution.

The Sentinel furnace monitoring system was installed to cover the whole furnace. Accretions formation, hot spots and condition of the refractory and freeze-lining can be observed easily with the system, allowing customers to deal with problems in a short time frame.

Upgraded Flash smelting furnace line with higher capacity feeder & concentrate burner, new furnace cooling & monitoring system, Standard furnace charge increased to 250-260 t/h, Timely project delivery in under 12 months and shutdown in 65 days, Quickly back to production

Exceeding expectations

These improvements allowed for higher furnace on-line availability, higher throughput, and an ability to smelt more complex concentrates. Due to this, the project was successfully delivered within the agreed timescale, with the planned shutdown schedule of 65 days followed by a rapid ramp-up back to production. The total feed of 260 t/h, which exceeded the design value, was achieved. All performance guarantee values were demonstrated within the first 3-day trial.


Moving forward with relationships and opportunities

We grow and build on partnerships, with Norilsk Nickel and Metso Outotec already having a strong and long-lasting partnership working together. Together, the whole mission was conducted in an outstanding manner by firstly setting accurate targets, followed by the necessary studies and tests, through to the implementation of proprietary industry-leading technologies. Together with the Nornickel specialists, we were able to achieve such positive results. 

In 2020, Metso Outotec was awarded a new contract to modernize the second line at the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant. The contract value is approximately EUR 90 millions, and it includes engineering and delivery of a nickel flash smelting furnace as well as a heat recovery boiler with related automation and advanced digital products. Metso Outotec is looking forward to the delivery of the equipment, set to take place during the first half of 2022. Replacing the existing smelting line with the latest process technology and furnace structures will significantly increase the line’s capacity and availability, reduce metal losses and ease maintenance. The new line will also allow for the easy connection and efficient operation with potential future sulfuric acid production and neutralization projects.

“Metso Outotec is a long-term partner of Norilsk Nickel, supplying state-of-the-art equipment and technologies. Our cooperation allows us to solve the most important production and technological issues, such as increasing the reliability and efficiency of production,” says Sergey Dubovitsky - Senior Vice President, Strategy, Strategic Projects, Logistics & Procurement at Norilsk Nickel.

Metso Outotec is a leading supplier of smelting technology, with about 40 operational smelting lines around the world. The Flash Smelting Process is the cleanest smelting method available, giving high recovery of metals with low investment and operating costs. In collaboration with Norilsk Nickel, we’re able to provide customers with the resources and expertise they need to achieve their goals and further optimize their production. That’s why we are the partner for positive change.

This article is part of our Smelting Newsletter Issue 1/2021. Visit the issue front page for all articles and greetings from Jyrki Makkonen, Vice President of Smelting business line. 

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