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Sulphuric Acid on the WebTM Technical Manual DKL Engineering, Inc.

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Acid Plant Database  October 29, 2019

Owner Xstrata Copper - Altonorte Smelter

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Location La Negra, Antofagasta
Background 1995 - Noranda acquired 25% of the Refimet Smelter with the strategy to have a small presence in the Chilean smelter business.
1998 - Noranda acquired 100% of Refimet


Plant No. 1 Plant
Monsanto Plant
No. 2 Plant
Lurgi Plant
No. 3 Plant
Outotec Plant
No. 1 Plant
Coordinates 23º 49' 37" S, 70º 19' 5" W 23º 49' 36" S, 70º 19' 2" W 23º 49' 35" S, 70º 18' 59" W -
Type of Plant Metallurgical Metallurgical Metallurgical
Gas Source Copper Copper Copper
Noranda Reactor
Peirce-Smith Converters (4)
Plant Capacity 541 MTPD 127,000 Nm3/h, 11.4% SO2 2040 MTPD
175,000 Nm3/h, 12% SO2
2040 MTPD
SA/DA SA 4 SA 4 SA 3/1 DA
Status Shutdown 2003
Demolished 2009
Operating Operating
Year Built 1970 1993 2003 2008
Technology MECS Lurgi (Outotec) Lurgi (Outotec) Lurgi (Outotec)
Contractor - - - Xstrata
Remarks The plant was originally built by Monsanto as a single absorption plant and operated by ASARCO, Corpus Christi, Texas, USA. 1982 - The plant was orginally built for Rio Tinto in Huelva, Spain.
1996 - The plant was relocated to its present location
2000 - When Noranda Reactor installed, FCII was awarded job to upgrade the acid plant

Plant design is essentially a copy of No. 3 plant but double absorption.  Quench tower has a different design than No. 3 plant.

Pictures      Xstrata-Copper-Altonorte-2.JPG (3690129 bytes)
- Xstrata-Copper-Altonorte-AP2a.JPG (3812242 bytes)   Xstrata-Copper-Altonorte-AP2b.JPG (3789462 bytes)

  Xstrata-Copper-Altonorte-AP3c.jpg (60845 bytes)   Xstrata-Copper-Altonorte-AP3d.JPG (3779938 bytes)   Xstrata-Copper-Altonorte-AP3e.JPG (3803081 bytes)

Xstrata-Copper-Altonorte-AP1a.JPG (3743987 bytes)   Xstrata-Copper-Altonorte-AP1b.JPG (3810607 bytes)   Xstrata-Copper-Altonorte-AP1c.JPG (3814070 bytes)
General ca 2000 - Reverbatory Furnace replaced with an oxygen enriched Noranda Reactor.   
2007 - The operational upgrade, with an original investment estimate of US$58 million, will increase production capacity by almost one-third from around 290,000 tonnes a year of copper in anodes to 380,000 tonnes a year. Sulphuric acid production will increase from 800,000 to 1.1 million tonnes a year.  In addition, as part of Xstrata Copper’s commitment to being an environmental leader in the mining industry, Altonorte will voluntarily invest a further US$14 million to install double contacts in the new sulphuric acid plant, with the objective of increasing emissions capture from 93% to 95.5%. This will take the total expansion capital to US$72 million.

Altonorte is a custom copper smelting operation located near the port of Antofagasta in northern Chile. The smelter has the capacity to process 900,000 tonnes of copper concentrate per year, yielding 290,000 tonnes of anode copper and 800,000 tonnes of sulphuric acid annually.

Altonorte began as a concentrate roasting operation in 1988 under the name of Refimet. The company was owned 66.6% by Inversiones del Pacifico and 33.4% by Minera Barrick Chile. In 1993, a copper smelter was built with a design capacity of 235,000 tonnes per annum of concentrate. Four years later the capacity was raised to 390,000 tonnes per annum of concentrate.

In 1998, Refimet was acquired by Noranda. The company was renamed Noranda Chile and the smelter became known as Altonorte. A major expansion project costing US$170 million was completed in 2003. The project included the installation of a new concentrate dryer, the replacement of the reverberatory furnace with a continuous reactor, new converters and acid plant, an additional anode furnace, a second casting wheel, and a slag flotation plant. Following the project, sulphur dioxide capture increased to more than 93%. In 2005, Altonorte started to process molybdenum concentrate.

In August 2006, Altonorte was acquired by Xstrata as part of the Falconbridge assets. A new expansion is underway to increase capacity to 1.2 million tonnes per annum of copper concentrate.

References Carrasco, J. and Pierre, B., "Optimization Initiatives at Altonorte on the Path to Becoming a World Class Smelter", Copper 2019, Vancouver, Canada.
News -

MTPD - Metric Tonne per Day           STPD - Short Ton per Day
MTPA - Metric Tonne per Annum      STPA - Short Ton per Annum
SA - Single Absorption
DA - Double Absorption

* Coordinates can be used to locate plant on Google Earth