Since its introduction to the marketplace, ISASMELT™ has had the highest adoption rate of any base metals smelting process. The ISASMELT™ process has made a significant impact on the global metals industry allowing new operations to reach production quickly and cost-effectively and making it possible for brownfield operations to improve profitability and meet high environmental standards. Especially in the copper industry, ISASMELT™ has been rapidly accepted in recent years, with the total capacity of operating ISASMELT™ plants being more than 9,000,000 tons per year of copper-bearing feed material.
For new greenfield plants, ISASMELT™ has made entry into the mineral processing and smelting marketplace a straightforward, less expensive decision. ISASMELT™ requires much less upfront capital than its alternatives and is simpler to install and operate. It also requires much less real estate and can be installed, operating and producing to design capacity rapidly. As an investor in the industry, this means a notably faster time to profitability.
Perhaps the biggest adopters to the date of ISASMELT™ technology though have been existing brownfield operations who have chosen to install ISASMELT™ to improve production capacity, reduce operating costs or improve environmental performance. These operations have recognized the superior results delivered by ISASMELT™ in copper and lead smelters around the world.
ISASMELT™ is a simple, highly efficient bath-smelting process for the production of non-ferrous metals. It is recognized as the most innovative, efficient and cost-effective smelting process available in the world and since going into commercial production in the 1990s it has been installed in major brownfield and greenfield plants around the world.
The ISASMELT™ process was jointly developed by Mount Isa Mines, a subsidiary of Glencore, and the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
ISASMELT™ utilizes a cylindrical refractory lined furnace and operates with a single submerged combustion lance to create a highly turbulent bath.
You can view more on the IsaSmelt process on their website here.
The first stage of the Albion Process™ is fine grinding of the concentrate, which introduces a high degree of strain into the sulphide mineral lattice. The number of grain boundary fractures in the mineral increases, enabling leaching under atmospheric conditions. Fine grinding is carried out in energy efficient IsaMills™.
Fine grinding also prevents passivation of the leaching mineral by-products of the leach reaction. Passivation is normally complete once the precipitated layer is 2 to 3 μm thick. Ultrafine grinding of a mineral to a particle size of 80% passing 10 to 12 μm will prevent passivation, as the leaching mineral will disintegrate prior to the precipitate layer becoming thick enough to passivate the mineral.
After the concentrate has been finely ground, the slurry is then leached in agitated vessels, and oxygen is introduced to the leach slurry to oxidize the sulphide minerals.
The agitated leaching vessels are designed by Glencore Technology and are known as the Albion Leach Reactor. The Albion Leach Reactor is agitated using dual hydrofoil impellers and oxygen is introduced to the leach slurry at supersonic velocity to improve mass transfer efficiency and ensure efficient oxidation of the sulphides. The Albion Leach Reactor is designed to operate at close to the boiling point of the slurry, and excess heat generated from the oxidation process is removed through humidification of the vessel off gases.
You can view more on the Albion process on their website here.