At Horne Smelter, we produce 99.1% pure copper anodes. From their arrival at our Rouyn-Noranda smelter, whether by train or truck, to casting in our anode furnaces, the concentrates and recycled products go through various processing stages before the material can then be processed into cathodes at the CCR Refinery in Montréal-Est.
Stages of copper refining
When the materials arrive at the plant, they are cross-checked to ensure that they are in conformance with our authorizations. After sampling, sorting and shredding, the batches of recycled materials are sent mainly to the Noranda reactor, depending on their size, nature and content. The approximately 740,000 metric tonnes of copper concentrate and other copper- and precious-metal-containing materials, along with the recycled materials, are sampled and sent via conveyors to the reactor.
Fusion occurs in the reactor where the concentrate and melt are heated to a temperature of 1,200°C. When it reaches a copper content of 70%, the matte is transferred to the Noranda converter. Oxygen enrichment from the air used in the process generates enough heat to virtually eliminate the need for fuel.
The Noranda converter was commissioned in 1997 and operates on a batch basis. It transforms the reactor matte to raise the copper content to 98%. The copper thus produced is transferred to the converters for another transformation step.
The concentrator receives the slag produced by the reactor and Noranda converter. After crushing, it is reduced to fine particles in the grinders, then pumped to the flotation cells. The copper is recovered by mechanically separating it from its impurities.
The sulfuric acid plant consists of three sections: in the first, wet gasses are cleaned, cooled, and dried; in the second (dry gasses), sulfurous anhydride is converted into sulfuric anhydride, which is absorbed in the third and final section (strong acid) to produce sulfuric acid. Over 640,000 metric tons of acid are produced annually.
Copper from the Noranda converter is transferred to the converters, where most of the impurities are removed through oxidation and slagging.
Natural gas is used to remove the excess oxygen in the copper from the converters. This copper is rendered 99.1% pure and is cast into 340 kg anodes.
The copper anodes are transported by rail car or truck to the CCR Refinery in Montréal-Est for a final transformation stage. There, the copper will be purified to 99.99% and sold on the market.
Horne Smelter processes copper concentrates from mines.
Most of the copper (about 700,000 metric tonnes per year) is supplied by mines around the world, including Canadian mines.
Concentrates are shipped mainly by rail, but also by truck. Concentrates have an average copper content of 26%.
By the early 21st century, computers and other information and communications technology became essential tools for work and recreation.
As the amount of products consumed increases, it turns out that a significant amount of electronics is still being sent to landfills. In its most recent residential waste characterization study, RECYC-QUÉBEC found that approximately 1.3 kg per person, per year, still ends up at disposal sites, representing more than 9,500 tonnes province-wide.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of Technology Policy, over the next 20 years, the average American household will dispose of 68 electronic products, including 10 computers, 20 cell phones, 7 televisions, and several video, CD and DVD players, telephone answering machines, and printers.
At Horne Smelter, we recover copper, gold, silver, platinum, palladium, and other metals from such electronics.
We work with large manufacturing and processing companies around the world, providing them with environmentally friendly recycling solutions.
In addition to copper, we produce 640,000 tonnes of sulfuric acid every year. This by-product of our smelting process is a quality product used in the food, pharmaceutical, and fertilizer industries, among others.
In 1989, the start-up of the sulfuric acid plant marked a key milestone in Horne Smelter’s commitment to the environment and its community. From that point on, SO2 emissions have steadily decreased. Today, more than 96% of the sulfur from the process is converted to sulfuric acid.