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Sibanye-Stillwater, a multinational precious metals mining company, has selected Tenova Pyromet, a Tenova company specialising in the design and supply of submerged arc furnace technology for the metals industry, as their technology partner for the upgrade of their largest Platinum Group Metals (PGM) smelting furnace
Sibanye-Stillwater’s main objectives with the furnace upgrade are to further improve reliability, campaign life and availability in the long run. The company awarded a feasibility study in November 2020 to Tenova Pyromet to develop the upfront engineering and budget estimate for the upgrade of the crucible of their Furnace no. 1 at Marikana, North West Province, South Africa.
Subsequently, in July 2021, Tenova Pyromet was awarded the contract for the detail design, supply and construction of the furnace crucible upgrade. Since then, the detail engineering and procurement phase has begun, and the construction phase is due to start during the second quarter of 2022.
Bennie du Toit, Sibanye-Stillwater vice-president of smelting, commented, “We selected Tenova Pyromet for the Furnace no. 1 upgrade based on their innovative technical offering as well as our positive experience with Furnace no. 2, which has been reliable and stable for almost a decade.” Furnace no. 2 was designed, supplied and constructed by Tenova Pyromet and started up in 2012.
Tenova Pyromet’s composite graphite-copper sidewall coolers will be employed in the upgraded furnace sidewall. The design represents the next iteration of the reliable copper plate cooler design used on Furnace no. 2 combined with Tenova Pyromet’s composite graphite-copper MAXICOOL high intensity coolers, successfully in operation on another PGM smelter.
Tenova developed a patent that covers the use of graphite in combination with copper cooling to prevent the sulphide corrosion of the copper cooling elements in a furnace sidewall. The use of graphite helps to protect the copper cooler from the corrosion caused by free sulphur present in the furnace sidewall adjacent to the concentrate feed layer.
“Tenova Pyromet is honoured to be selected by Sibanye-Stillwater and it is a privilege to continue our relationship with their highly competent smelter team. They continually challenge us to improve our technology and products”, said Hugo Joubert, Tenova Pyromet manager for Base Metals and Copper Products.
Tenova Pyromet has designed and supplied eight circular PGM smelting furnaces in South Africa.