Spain’s Atlantic Copper will treat only 860,000 tonnes of copper concentrates at its Huelva smelter thisyear, due to a major refurbishment of the hearth in its flash furnace, starting on September 3.

The smelter will shut for 50 days as the complete refractory lining of the furnace – installed back in 1975 – is replaced for the first time.

The associated electrolytic refinery will close for 40 days, losing some 800-900 tpd of production, although the company is aiming to build up some anode stock to offset the effects of the shutdown.

Atlantic Copper has the capacity to produce 284,000 tpy of cathode, following the 2011 expansion from 260,000 tpy which brought anode and cathode capacity into line.

Of this total, 55% of production is sold into the Spanish market, with the rest being exported to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean area.

About 60% of the company’s feed comes from mines owned by parent company Freeport-McMoRan, with the rest coming from third parties, according to senior metallurgy vp Miguel Palacios.

Blending is an important part of the smelter flow chart, given the varied supply source. The plant also consumes some 10-20,000 tpy of commercial scrap, depending on market rates and availability.

Atlantic Copper achieved a record throughput of 1.03 million dmt of smelted concentrates in 2012, yielding cathode production of 274,000 tonnes, sulphuric acid production of 1,004,000 tonnes and acid sales of 1,012,000 tonnes.

Ann-Marie Moreno