COPPER DIVISION: Altonorte Smelter
Noranda purchased a 25% interest in the Altonorte copper smelter 25 km southeast of the port of Antofagasta, northern Chile in late 1995, when it was known as Refimet. The interest was increased to 100% early in 1998.
Today Altonorte has a reverberatory furnace, three Pierce-Smith converters, two anode furnaces and a new Outokumpu casting wheel, plus two sulphuric gas acid plants and an “over the fence” oxygen supply of 283 tonnes per day. The current capacity is 400,000 tonnes per year of concentrate feed to make 160,000 tonnes of copper metal in copper anodes. The anodes are currently refined at Codelco’s nearby Chuquicamata refinery.
A major expansion to the tune of US$170 million, put on hold pending the stabilization of the copper markets, was re-launched in January 2000. It will double Altonorte’s feed capacity to 820,000 tonnes per year by 2003, and increase copper output to 290,000 tonnes per year.
The expansion will include a new primary Noranda-type smelting reactor replacing the reverberatory furnace, three larger Pierce-Smith converters replacing the existing ones, two additional anode furnaces and the same casting wheel. There will be more oxygen production capacity, as well as new slag-milling facilities and new concentrate drying and injection systems. The plant will need more power, which will be supplied by the regional power grid.