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Atlantic Copper’s smelter in Spain preps for furnace work

Keywords: Tags  Atlantic Copper, Spain smelter, copper, copper concentrates, Huelva smelter, smelter shutdown, Freeport-McMoRan, Ann-Marie Moreno

HUELVA, Spain — Spain’s Atlantic Copper SLU this year will treat only 860,000 tonnes of copper concentrates at its Huelva smelter in the southwestern part of the country due to a major refurbishment of the hearth in its flash furnace.

The smelter will shut for 50 days starting Sept. 5 as the complete refractory lining of the furnace, installed in 1975, is replaced for the first time.

The associated electrolytic refinery will close for 40 days, losing some 800 to 900 tonnes per day of production, although the company intends to build up some anode stock to offset the effects of the shutdown.

Atlantic Copper has the capacity to produce 284,000 tonnes per year of cathode, of which 55 percent is sold into the Spanish market and the rest is exported to other Mediterranean countries.

About 60 percent of the company’s feed comes from mines owned by Phoenix-based parent company Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. and the rest comes from third parties, according to senior vice president of metallurgy Miguel Palacios.

Blending is an important part of the smelter flowchart, given the varied supply source. The plant also consumes some 10,000 to 20,000 tonnes per year of commercial scrap, depending on market rates and availability.

The Madrid-based company achieved a record throughput of 1.03 million dry metric tons of smelted concentrates in 2012, yielding production of 274,000 tonnes of cathodes, 1 million tonnes of sulfuric acid production of acid sales of 1.01 million tonnes.

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