Smelter and furnace operations
Commissioned in 1993, the smelter has a 15MW capacity. Key processes are drying, smelting and converting the concentrate. Concentrates brought in are blended in by a conveyor. Dried concentrate is pulverised and then stored in silos. The off-gases are cleaned in an electrostatic precipitator, where fine concentrates are recovered too.
The concentrate and flue dust are mixed with lime and then feed through to the day bin and into the furnace.
Inside the furnace electrodes provide heat. The lighter oxides float to the top as slag, and the more dense sulphides, which contain the PGMs, sink to the hearth as furnace matte.
The smelter at Zondereinde has for years treated Zondereinde's output and spare capacity has been filled with toll-treated third party concentrate. In line with the company’s expansion and Booysendal operations coming on stream, the smelter is being expanded, and a new furnace is being built to make provision for the higher volumes. Innovative design parameters allow the facility to operate as a pure UG2 furnace, apart from being a conventional smelter also for a combination of Merensky and UG2 concentrate. This new design comfortably accommodates the growth in UG2 mining.