Substitution of quartzite for sand rock to allow Norilsk Nickel to save hundreds of millions of rubles

Norilsk Nickel’s Polar Division has made arrangements for the utilization of crystalline quartzite as flux (raw material component for metal smelting) at the pyrometallurgical process stages of the Nickel Plant, the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, and the Copper Plant. The material for which the annual requirement totals approximately 400,000 tons is sourced from the Shilkinsky Deposit in the Krasnoyarsk Territory.

The undeniable advantages of using quartzite instead of sand rock sourced from the Kayerkansky Deposit include: lower flux costs and a high content of SiO2 which is the main substance resulting in the total material consumption decreasing by an estimated 20 to 30% (60,000 to 70,000 tons per annum) versus sand rock. Besides, the volume of waste and converter slag and, accordingly, the losses of non-ferrous metals with waste slag are expected to drop. The productive capacity of the melting facilities will increase and the consumption of utilities will be reduced.

To update the technical/economic figures of using quartzite, a test batch of that material totaling 19,000 tons was delivered during the summer river navigation period of 2013. The Nickel Plant held pilot tests for that material in February and March 2014. The preliminary results of the pilot tests are assessed as being positive.

It has been resolved to continue the experiment to take a balanced decision concerning the switch to crystalline quartzite and to update the economic effect from the use of imported material. To this end, it is planned to deliver another test batch of quartzite totaling 30,000 tons during the summer river navigation of 2014 and to hold the second series of pilot tests covering also the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant and the Copper Plant.

The successful test results will allow the use of local sand rock having a high prime cost to be given up. Given the fact that the current annual requirement for sand rock totals approximately 400,000 tons, the reduction in the operating costs may amount to several hundreds of millions of rubles per annum.