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Case Studies

BHPB – Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter (Australia)

BHPB (Nickel West) operates an integrated flash and electric furnace to process nickel concentrates at the Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter (KNS) in Western Australia. The furnace produces a nickel matte and a reject slag. Slag cleaning is carried out in the electric furnace appendage which is constructed as an integral part of the flash furnace. Matte is processed in conventional Peirce-Smith converters before being granulated. Most movements are performed using pots and ladles and two overhead gantry cranes.

To aid in debottlenecking and capacity analysis, a converter/crane aisle simulation model (ASM) was first developed for KNS in the 1990’s and has been recalibrated, upgraded and enhance on several occasions since it was first created. The ASM tool has been designed to be used by smelter personnel by incorporating an Excel front end and back end. It is a valuable tool for accessing any proposed changes to the smelter’s operation.

Cement Australia – Bulwer Island Cement Terminal (Australia)

Cement Australia operates a cement mill at Bulwer Island in Brisbane. This facility is to be upgraded with a second milling operation and new silos. In addition the facility is being considered as a terminal for imported product. A simulation model was built to incorporate the arrival of material via ship, train or truck. Likewise the model allowed for material despatching via ship, train or truck after milling. For a series of future marketing plans, the model was used to test silo capacity, inward and outward demurrage levels, milling capacity and the number of weighbridges required.

AMC Magnesium Plant (Australia)

Australian Magnesium Corporation (AMC) needed to determine the viability of a commercial magnesium plant using its proprietary technology. To assist in establishing both the design and capacity of the plant, a model of the plant was developed using detailed process flow diagrams, mass flows, reliability information from literature and maintenance experience, and operation and start-up experience from AMC’s pilot plant.

In particular, the model was used to evaluate the:

  • surge capacity required between sections of the plant
  • critical equipment requiring standby capacity
  • number of parallel streams required for sections of the plant
  • potential capital cost reduction options.

The model was run with different scenarios to assist AMC in determining the most effective plant configuration that would produce the required capacity at the lowest cost.

SPCC Ilo Copper Smelter Modernisation Project Simulation Study (Peru)

Southern Peru Copper Corporation wished to upgrade their copper smelter operations in Ilo, Peru. Their goal was to reduce the current seven converter operation to four or five converters and to also build an additional acid plant.

To help establish the number of converters and the size of the acid plant needed, a simulation model was developed. The commercial simulation package, Arena, was used to develop a model of the smelter and simulate the various scenarios. As part of the simulation model a graphical animation of the plant was developed. It proved invaluable for validating the model and clarifying how the new system would operate.

The project was successful at assisting the development team with their decision on the number of converters needed and also identified some additional operating philosophy procedures for maximising the potential of the smelter.

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