Printer Friendly

Smelter recycling process raises funds.

Smelter recycling process raises funds

A recycling process implemented at the Falconbridge Ltd. smelter in Sudbury is helping generate capital for mineral exploration.

Mike Humphries, the manager of smelter custom feed for Falconbridge, says significant income has resulted from a process implemented at the smelter about five years ago to extract elements from scrap metal, spent catalysts and the sludge which results from metals finishing.

Materials put through the process include alloys used in the production of turbine-blades, petro-chemical catalysts and various disgarded metals from smaller machine shops and fabricating shops.

The waste is sent through a roaster-electric furnace-converter process which removes metallic and organic impurities such as sulphur and produces a high-quality matte containing nickel, copper and cobalt. The matte is shipped to Falconbridge's Norway refinery for separation of the metals and further refining.

Plating operations that send their sludge to the Sudbury smelter have been required to alter their waste treatment processes so that the sludge meets Falconbridge's requirements. For example, many operations now separate waste streams which contain high levels of chromium.

Humphries says Falconbridge obtains the waste materials from suppliers in Canada, the U.S. and abroad which do not have the ability to extract the valuable nickel, copper and cobalt elements. The company pays suppliers for the extracted elements but also charges a fee for treating the waste products.

Falconbridge obtains the scrap materials with assistance from the Ontario Waste Management Commission (OWMC).

According to Humphries, the process also benefits the environment because it extracts the potentially harmful materials found in sludge and renders them harmless as elements of production matte and dump slag. The materials were previously disposed of in designated landfill sites.

"There are no real drawbacks to the system," comments Humphries.

Although the Ministry of the Environment has authorized Falconbridge to treat 100,000 metric tons of the waste material annually, operators at the Falconbridge smelter are currently only introducing 40,000 tons of waste into the system.

The volume may increase as the system is upgraded. Five years ago only 5,000 tons were being fed through the system annually.

While "recycling" waste materials through the smelter has proven valuable, Humphries insists that the process will never displace normal operations at the smelter.

"(The waste material) can't be treated on its own. Even if the opportunities were there, the process would never replace the basic ores," he says.

Mark Wiseman, a supervisor of environmental services at Falconbridge's Sudbury operations, says Environment Canada is provided with information and documentation pertaining to all imported material as well as to the extraction process.

Falconbridge receives most of its raw recyclable materials from sources outside the country.

The scrap received by Falconbridge is considered hazardous because the metals contained in the scrap may leach out over time if buried in a landfill area.

Wiseman explains that all waste is subject to a detailed chemical analysis prior to shipping to ensure that proper transportation procedures are followed and that safety measures are taken. He insists that most of the shipments received by Falconbridge are quite benign.

Humphries says Falconbridge conducts a second battery of examinations when it receives the waste.

PHOTO : Loaders fill a crusher with waste products for the custom feed at the Falconbridge smelter
COPYRIGHT 1991 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Mining Report; Falconbridge Ltd. smelter
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jun 1, 1991
Previous Article:Lawyer blames securities commission for reduced exploration.
Next Article:Expansion into surface work pays off for Alex MacIntyre.

Related Articles
Foundry recycling could profit by aluminum's success.
Noranda looks at scrap copper supply. (Nonferrous).
In motion: Canadian metal exports down, dollar value up in 2002. (Canadian Market Report).
Identification of sources of lead in children in a primary zinc-lead smelter environment.
Energy & environment: abatement program boon to contractors.
Exploring the Inco merger.
Stockholders are not the only stakeholders.
Xstrata Nickel boosts cobalt--nickel recycling production.
Xstrata builds recycling plant.
Aluminum engine: a researcher draws a connection between economic prosperity and aluminum recycling.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters