First Pierce Smith Converter in Chuquicamata is Inaugurated

Mario HonrubiaInnovationSustainabilityengineersminingmining industry

The first Pierce Smith Converter in Chuquicamata has been recently inaugurated and is already running. Its goal is to capture the 97% of the gasses emitted by the mining company and moves away to the employers from the fire line. This converter is the fifth acquired by the enterprise and it has been the result of two years of work.

Pierce Smith Converter (CPS)

The Pierce Smith Converter is the one used in the most of the smeltings in Chile and the world. The objective of the conversion is to eliminate the iron, sulfur and other defects in the copper production. This is obtained when the melted axis is oxidated with air enriched with oxygen and using silica as flux. The removal is done in two stages. The first one is called "slag blowing" and it produces the liquid slag from silica melting. The second one is called "copper blowing" and it has an objective to eliminate the sulfur from the metal. The result of this process is the production of blister Copper (99% Cu), which is taken to the refining stage. Pierce Smith Converter

The process

Patricio Astudillo, the project manager, spoke about how the construction was highly complex due to the big amount of interferences in the Melting ship, which required of daily planning and coordination for the safety of the duty and to accomplish the established dates. "To assemble this CPS we had to take out a smaller slag treatment oven, without bells and with very different dimensions to the ones of the new converter. This required a whole engineering work to see how to move away this oven to install the new one", explained Carlos Ángel Miranda, the Engineering Manager of the Project Managment.

The plans for the future

The mining counts with five converters in total but the last one is the only CPS, that's why Chuquicamata informed that the rest of the converters will replace their bells for the same ones of the Pierce-Smith. This way, they'll manage to guarantee the capture of all the gasses that are generated by the process of copper production and modernize the plant to be able to obey with the new "Norm of Emissions for the Chilean Smeltings" that will be valid from December 2018. Join our engineering community here