Improving Environmental and Economic aspects through Process Innovation. Oriel Resources.

Nicholas Barcza – Director and Metallurgical Engineering Consultant, Oriel Resources

Innovations such as advanced DC furnace technology and upstream sorting technologies can combine to produce substantial efficiencies and improved environmental aspects in the processing of ferrous metals such as Chromium and Nickel that are mostly used as alloys in Stainless Steel.

Mintek in South Africa has worked on several related projects including some in Brazil, Guatemala, Kazakhstan and elsewhere with the project developers.

Several companies, including Oriel Resources, have evaluated the DC furnace technology Mintek developed and that has been applied to Ferrochrome and Ferronickel production in different locations by major companies.

The DC process flow sheet technology is based in some applications on the use of upgraded ore fines concentrate and thermal pre-treatment as the preferred approach to manage the feed sources. The advanced process technology offers the potential to carry out pre-heating and partial pre-reduction of the reducible metallic oxides in the ores prior to the electric furnace smelting stage to produce the ferroalloys and that can significantly decrease the electrical MW power consumption.

The combination of leaching of some laterite ore types to produce nickel and cobalt intermediates that can be used as feed sources for the flexible options of high-grade chemical purification to use as battery materials in addition to producing high-grade ferroalloys is a positive option to decrease the power consumption requirements and lower the carbon footprint. Upstream sensing and sorting can be used in some deposits to substantially improve the feed grade of the primary metal, as well as improve the management of elements such as Fe, Mg and Si content and their ratios in the context of pyrometallurgical treatment or separate out material preferred for leaching from material destined for the furnace smelting stage. Combined with advanced DC furnace technology this brings substantial potential savings in process cost as well as improved recovery of metal for overall improved process economics.

Oriel Resources and Bara are well placed to assist potential clients who want to use this technology to reduce overall power consumption and carbon footprints of mining in Central Asia and other parts of the World.