Northam’s Second Furnace Comes Into Play

Platinum producer Northam Platinum today celebrated the opening of the smelter complex expansion at the group's Zondereinde mine near Thabazimbi in the Limpopo province.

The smelter opening and launch of the second furnace at the group’s metallurgical complex marks a major milestone in Northam’s strategic growth initiatives, and underpins the renewal of the companies’ long-term strategic partnership with Heraeus, which contributed €20m to Northam smelter expansion programme the company said in a statement.

CE Paul Dunne said that for Northam, the addition of a second furnace at Zondereinde was a critical element of the group’s strategic growth in that it:

  • supports the expansion programme at Booysendal;
  • has the flexibility to handle and process the higher volumes from Zondereinde;
  • immediately raises the group’s processing capacity to more than 1 million PGM ounces; and
  • significantly reduces its operational risk.”

The new 20MW furnace will provide the additional capacity required to treat the growing volumes from Zondereinde, Booysendal and those of Eland when it starts producing. It has been designed to be used as a pure UG2 furnace to accommodate the higher UG2 ore percentages or as a conventional Merensky/UG2 furnace.

The new furnace incorporates a number of advances in the area of PGM smelting. These include extended refractory lining life expectancy, metal containment and cooling, along with best practice in terms of monitoring, tapping and furnace control functions.

Image: Northam Platinum smelter

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