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Lead-Zinc 2010 Edited by: A. Siegmund, L. Centomo, C. Geenen, N. Piret, G. Richards and R.

Stephens TMS (The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society), 2010

THE VERSATILITY OF OUTOTEC’S AUSMELT PROCESS FOR LEAD PRODUCTION Stefanie Creedy, Markus Reuter, Stephen Hughes, Gavin Swayn, Ross Andrews and Robert Matusewicz Outotec Ausmelt Pty Ltd 12 Kitchen Road Dandenong, 3175, Victoria, Australia (correspondence: ABSTRACT Outotec’s Ausmelt Process is well suited to applications where existing technologies are unable to meet the high standards set by today’s energy and eco-conscious world. With the depletion of high grade primary lead sources, lead producers are looking for new technologies to process lower grade concentrates and secondary (post-consumer) materials, usually within the same vessel to save on capital and operating costs. This paper will discuss the development and options available with Outotec’s Ausmelt Process for lead smelting including smaller scale lead projects by providing low-cost, automated and environmentally responsible smelting solutions.


Offering flexible. Some of the main advantages of Outotec’s Ausmelt Process include the ability to: • • • produce secondary benign products (recycling/bleeding of fume which may contain harmful components. 440 . batteries. there have been an increasing number of secondary lead recycling projects. Outotec’s Ausmelt Process commercial lead and zinc experience includes numerous primary and secondary materials such as concentrates. This flowsheet consists of smelting. especially China and India. Bath turbulence and mixing inherent to the technology also provides the ability to fume volatile species such as lead. more often now within the same operation. There are currently a total of 17 Ausmelt furnaces currently processing lead & zinc containing materials/residues. It is highly flexible and efficient. Outotec’s Ausmelt Process is well suited to applications where existing technologies are unable to meet the increasing stringent hygiene and environmental regulations. With this growing abundance of spent lead acid batteries and the depletion of high grade primary lead resources. Pertinent to the processing of lead and zinc materials is the ability to control the bath oxidation potential. construction or commissioning phase.INTRODUCTION Increasing lead demand has been largely driven by growth in the automotive industries in the developing world. residues and slags. Figure 1 provides a schematic flowsheet of the Ausmelt Three Stage Lead Process. to deliver high recoveries and excellent environmental performance. providing better control of lead and zinc distribution between the metal. Operation with a well sealed vessel under a negative pressure ensures minimal fugitive dust and gas emissions and higher offgas SO2 concentrations. etc. The versatility of the Ausmelt Process allows furnaces to be customized to suit individual applications and utilize alternative or existing technologies. with the capacity to process primary and secondary feeds using a variety of fuels. low cost environmentally friendly direct smelting. gas and slag phases.e. antimony. Outotec’s Ausmelt Process is considered a leader within the industry. arsenic. To capture small scale lead-acid battery recycling projects Outotec Ausmelt has been working with Gravita Exim to provide low cost standardized plants. slag reduction and slag fuming stages. however. zinc. or further products i. usually the stages only consist of smelting and slag reduction with a fuming stage only necessary if zinc recovery is required. use concentrates as reductant (dependent on feed composition). The chemistry and thermodynamics of these stages are discussed in various publications [2] and will not be repeated here. Currently secondary (recycled) lead accounts for around 60% of the global lead production per annum [1]. With the inherent limitations of the traditional sinter oxidation – blast furnace processing route producers are seeking to adopt modern technologies to process low grade concentrates and secondary (postconsumer) materials. Outotec’s Ausmelt Process has gained widespread commercial acceptance in non-ferrous smelting and recycling applications.). OUTOTEC’S AUSMELT PROCESS The Ausmelt Process uses top submerged lancing for direct injection of fuel and oxygen enriched air into a molten slag bath with the intense agitation achieved promoting rapid reaction kinetics due to the optimal mass and heat transfer processes. use oxygen enrichment to achieve higher throughputs and secondary production (sulphuric acid/gypsum). with an additional 11 furnaces under design. zinc and arsenic.

semi-continuous. These stages are operated in either a batch or campaign mode depending on the production requirements and economics. • process a wide range of primary and secondary feeds.A typical 3 stage Ausmelt Process lead plant This general arrangement can be used for complete plant configurations.• • • utilize various fuel options depending on availability and economics (natural gas. For projects up to 100. slag reduction and fuming stages are divided amongst multiple furnaces or integrated with alternative technologies or existing equipment. fuel coal. feed compositions. feeds. Alternative technologies can also be employed for the reduction or fuming stages. 441 . smelting. continuous or campaigned modes. and utilize a single furnace for all processing stages. Figure 1 . These projects are usually operated with campaigns or in continuous mode. each stage (smelt. Flexibility to customize the design according to the individual applications and production requirements is due to the ability to: • operate in batch. bunker coal or plastics). The process flowsheet and furnace design are tailored depending on the clients’ requirements.g. throughput and/or existing facilities. and • control the thermodynamics and process chemistry as required by various feed types. allow flexibility of feeds to enable economic capture of the regional market via the use of primary and secondary feeds or mixes thereof. • apply modular design for the implementation of phased upgrades or expansions. light/heavy fuel oil. if these are available or preferred (e. To increase production. Outotec’s Kaldo technology). Across a range of non-ferrous projects Ausmelt furnaces have been coupled with blast furnaces. slag reduction and fuming if necessary) can be conducted using a single furnace.000 tpa of lead. • integrate with alternative technologies and existing facilities to increase throughput and/or modernize an operation. or each of the stages can be utilized individually and integrated into existing plant operations.

Slag Pb Bullion. COMMERCIAL LEAD OPERATIONS USING OUTOTEC’S AUSMELT PROCESS The flexibility of the Ausmelt Process is illustrated by the diverse range of lead projects in operation or currently under design or construction. Discard Slag Pb. Discard Slag Pb Bullion. Slimes Concentrates Residues Ausmelt Ausmelt Ausmelt Continuous (2 furnaces) Continuous (2 furnaces) Continuous (2 furnaces) Ausmelt Ausmelt Electric Furnace Ausmelt N/A N/A Batch Continuous Batch Ausmelt Ausmelt Continuous Batch Batch KCM SA* Ausmelt HCHM* Ausmelt Slag Fumer (existing) Fumer Batch *Currently under design or construction. Discard Slag Pb Bullion. Ausmelt N/A N/A Pb Bullion. Fume High Pb Slag Ausmelt Ausmelt QSL Furnace QSL Furnace Ausmelt Ausmelt Ausmelt Ausmelt N/A N/A N/A ISF N/A Pb Bullion.electric settling furnaces. QSL. Discard Concentrates Slag Feed Material Concentrates.Outotec’s Ausmelt Process Lead Projects Operations Product Smelting Slag Fuming Reduction Concentrates. Zn Fume. Battery Scrap. Residues. Zn Fume. **In 2008 the Ausmelt furnace was modified to process polymetallic copper concentrates and reverts. Discard Slag Pb Fume. shaft furnaces. box fumers and numerous hydrometallurgical operations depending on specific client needs. High Battery Scrap Grade Slag Polymetallic Pb Ausmelt N/A Pb Bullion. Pb/Zn Fume. Peirce Smith converters. Discard Slag Pb Bullion. Battery Scrap Concentrates. Sludge Concentrates. Discard Slag Pb Bullion. Residues. Discard Slag Pb Bullion. Pb/Zn Fume and/or Zn Fume Pb Bullion. 442 . Pb/Zn Fume. Slag Concentrates. Zn Fume. Secondaries. Discard Slag Crude Pb. Pb/Zn Fume. Outotec’s Ausmelt lead projects are summarized in Table 1. Table 1 . (2 Plants) YTCL * Carat* Votorantim Metais* Intertrust* Pb Tailings Leach Residues Leach Residues Pb Residues Zn Residues Concentrates Pb Polymetallic Concentrates Concentrates. Pb/Zn Fume. Low Grade Slag Project Mode of Operation Continuous Batch Weser Metall GmbH Namibia Custom Smelters** HZL Korea Zinc Batch Continuous Campaigns Continuous (2 furnaces) Korea Zinc Ausmelt Korea Zinc (2 plants) Korea Zinc (3 Plants) Young Poong Corp. Battery Paste. Discard Slag Pb.

Process flowsheet for Intertrust project 443 .3 Stage Batch Process Yunnan Tin Corporation (YTCL) Lead Smelter. slag and residues the smelting and reduction/fuming stages will be conducted in separate furnaces.000 tpa of lead concentrates. a zinc rich fume and a discardable slag. The process flowsheet is depicted in Figure 1 as shown previously. China (2010) The YTCL flowsheet uses a three stage smelt/slag reduction/fuming batch processes conducted in a single Ausmelt furnace. Bulgaria (TBA) As part of a modernization of Intertrust’s existing facilities this project involves the installation of two Ausmelt furnaces as depicted by Figure 2. Figure 2 . 3 Stage Campaign Process Intertrust Holding.000 tpa of lead concentrate the plant will produce lead bullion. battery scrap. Processing 125. Processing 190.

matte and sulphate residues to produce 66.000 tpa of refined lead. Figure 3 .000 tpa of bullion. lead-bearing residues. The Votorantim Metais plant will process a blend of lead concentrates. battery scrap and specified recycles to produce 75. processing lead concentrate (ca.000 tpa of refined lead.000 tpa) to produce lead bullion and a zinc containing slag. Votorantim and HCHM are all two stage smelt/slag reduction batch processes conducted in a single Ausmelt furnace.2 Stage Batch Process Hindustan Zinc Limited. 85. The process flowsheet is depicted in Figure 3. HCHM will process lead concentrates. battery paste and slimes to produce 65. This plant will process lead concentrates. KCM SA Bulgaria (TBA) and Namibia Custom Smelters-Namibia (1996) HZL. HZL are no longer conducting the fuming stage.KCM SA process flowsheet 444 . Votorantim Metais-Brazil (TBA) and HCHM-China (TBA). KCM SA is also be a three stage process however only the smelt and slag reduction stages will be conducted in the Ausmelt furnace with an existing slag fumer being utilized for the fuming stage. Originally designed as a 3 stage batch process. HZL-India (2005).

to process a further 100.formally Metaleurop SA). the need for matching lead capacity arose due to their desire to treat the associated lead containing residues.Namibia Custom Smelters was processing polymetallic lead concentrates. This included installation of an Ausmelt furnace in unison with the QSL furnace for treating lead materials [4]. Au Figure 4 . 2001) Korea Zinc (KZ) employs numerous Ausmelt furnaces at the fully integrated Zinc and Lead plant in Onsan.Integrated flowsheet at the Korea Zinc Onsan facility Korea Zinc now utilize 12 Ausmelt furnaces at the Onsan operation. Germany (1996) and Carat. Feeds Residue Pb Concentrates Pb Secondaries Residues Ag Cons High Pb Slag Fume Leaching Plant Zn/Pb Fume Ag Conc Zn Solution QSL Fume Pb Ausmelt Plant Pb Residue Zn Plant Goethite BULLION Slag Cu Speiss Cu Dross Cu Removal BULLION Cu Ausmelt Plant Ausmelt Zn Fumers Ausmelt Residue Fumers Ausmelt QSL Fumers Leached Residue Pb Refinery BULLION Pb Slime PMR Cu Speiss Zn & By products Discard Slag Cu Pb Bi. however. Continuous Smelt Weser Metall GmbH. Ag. A further 4 Ausmelt furnaces are employed at the Korea Zinc subsidiary Young Poong Corporation. The desire to increase zinc production then resulted in installation of another Ausmelt furnace to treat lead residues from the zinc plant and this helped boost overall lead production at the site [5]. Choi of Korea Zinc is illustrated in Figure 4. South Korea. in 2008 due to lack of concentrates the plant was modified to process copper concentrates and revert materials [3]. 2000.000 tpa of lead bullion and a high grade slag (Figure 5). Russia (TBA) Weser Metall GmbH (Recyclex SA .000 tpa of zinc residues and 120. Continuous Fuming & Campaign Processes Korea Zinc. The innovative integrated flowsheet pioneered by Dr. continuously smelt concentrates and battery scrap in a single Ausmelt furnace to produce over 120.000 tpa of lead residues also arising from hydrometallurgical operations. South Korea (1992. It was deemed more economical to operate the Ausmelt furnace under a continuous smelt and sell the high lead content slag rather than conduct a slag reduction stage in a batch or campaign mode to produce a 445 . As Korea Zinc adopted the technology for the treatment of zinc residues.

Figure 5 .000 tpa of lead concentrates and battery paste which will be continuously smelted in an Ausmelt furnace to produce lead bullion.Weser Metall GmbH (Recylex SA) process flowsheet The Carat lead plant in Khakassia. The feed for this operation will be 170. Outotec’s Ausmelt process allows flexibility in adjusting the oxygen partial pressure and fluxing within the Ausmelt furnace to 446 .discardable slag.000 tpa of feed materials with a high varying secondary fraction of above 60% [6.5 Pb and 7-9% Zn [8].0-1. 7]. The lead rich slag also produced will be cleaned in an electric furnace producing a lean-antimony alloy and secondary slag containing 1. Weser Metall GmbH is currently operating at more than 40% above design capacity treating more than 200. The process flowsheet is depicted in Figure 6.Process flowsheet for Carat project [8] As with any design linking different unit operations. Russia is based on the integration of the Ausmelt process with an electric furnace for slag reduction and cleaning. Figure 6 . the optimized flowsheet requires careful consideration of the process thermodynamics and slag chemistry as shown in Figure 7.

SRF operate with sodium carbonate (soda) slags which are considered an environmentally hazardous waste due to the reactivity and leachability of residual elements within the slag. oxides and sulphates. Figure 7 . These small scale fragmented operations have evolved due to restrictions placed on the transportation and trade of battery scrap.control key process parameters including slag phases present. liquidus temperature. This consistency in secondary lead battery feed has allowed the Outotec Ausmelt Process to deviate from the conventional approach of customizing each Ausmelt furnace design to offering ‘off the shelf’ technology packages. Small scale lead battery recycling plants traditionally use Short Rotary Furnaces (SRF) which have limited production capacity of typically 10-15 ktpa of crude lead per furnace. slag composition and oxygen partial pressure as generated by Factsage™ at 1100oC SMALL SCALE LEAD BATTERY RECYCLING PROJECTS A large proportion of secondary lead production is achieved by low capacity processing operations (less than 30. By standardizing the Ausmelt furnace design and offering low cost engineering and 447 . Silica contained in the glass separators and calcium or antimony present in the lead-alloy grids are the main impurity compounds. These issues have been strong drivers for more efficient. cleaner and higher capacity technologies.000 tpa of Pb). viscosity and slag conductivity.The lead recovery (decreases with increasing pO2 as shown) and % of slag liquid as a function of a generalized secondary lead feed containing metal. Lead acid batteries contain low levels of traditional impurities and gangue components.

the Ausmelt process offers a low cost environmentally friendly processing route. Outotec has enabled small scale lead recycling to be done economically with environmentally friendly technology. Targeted toward small scale operations with an annual production capacity of 15-30 ktpa. A small volume of bullion is produced with the majority of the lead reporting to an oxide fume during the second stage reduction. 448 . The main difference is the replacement of the rotary or blast furnace with an Ausmelt furnace. Outotec’s Ausmelt-Gravita lead processing facilities incorporate conventional feed preparation and delivery.Process flowsheet for Outotec Ausmelt Small Scale Lead Smelting Process ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE With increasingly stringent environmental and workplace health and safety regulations the lead industry is looking for cleaner and more environmentally friendly processing alternatives. Figure 8 . A lead bullion product is produced with the slag stockpiled for further supply through Gravita Exim. Campaigns are viable for this process because only a relatively small quantity of slag is produced due to the low levels of gangue materials in battery feeds and low fluxing requirement. The smelting campaign is a continuous process conducted under mildly reducing conditions. The fume is recycled to the smelting campaign with the final discardable slag containing 0. offgas and fume capture and product handling equipment. Outotec’s Ausmelt Process exceeds these environmental requirements whilst offering substantial increases in productivity and throughput. This process has been discussed in detail previously [9]. The slag cleaning campaign is conducted as a two-stage batch process. The Ausmelt-Gravita Lead Processing Facility illustrated in Figure 8 utilizes smelting and slag cleaning campaigns.0 wt% Pb.

12000 10000 SO2 Emissions (t/y) 8000 6000 4000 2000 0 1995 2006 2008 1995 2006 2008 12000 10000 8000 6000 4000 2000 0 Dust Emissions (kg/y) SO2 Emissions Dust Emissions Figure 9 . 449 . economics and environmental benefits of Outotec’s Ausmelt Process combine to ensure the Outotec Ausmelt Process is considered an attractive alternative to existing lead processing technologies. and has the Ability to process up to 100% secondary materials. is Capable of treating toxic wastes and heavy metal residues.Commonly installed to replace old technologies as part of the modernization of existing operations. can reduce CO2 emissions by utilizing natural gas as a fuel instead of coal. by 94-99% [7]. emissions facilitates generation of High strength SO2 off-gas can be sent to an acid plant for sulphuric acid acilitates production. This flexibility to tailor designs according to individual client requirements has been demonstrated by the diversity of Outotec’s Ausmelt lead projects. Weser Metall Nordenham smelter is a prime example of how the Ausmelt Process can be applied to dramatically improve a site’s environmental credentials. which involved replacing the existing sinter plant/blast furnace process with an Ausmelt furnace reduced SO2 and heavy metal emissions furnace. incorporates a Fully sealed furnace ensures effective capture of SO2 and dust emissions. flowsheets or augment existing technologies. By customizing the design and operation Ausmelt furnaces are easily integrated into traditional operation. This modernization project.Emissions at Weser Metall before and after the installation of an Ausmelt furnace CONCLUSION The versatility. operations the Ausmelt Process is considered the ‘Best Available T Technology’ since it: • • • • • • • produces a environmentally friendly discardable slag. Weser Metall have been able to maintain these low SO2 and dust emission levels despite l increasing production to more than 40% above the design capacity [ [6]. is characterized by a High energy efficiency efficiency.

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