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Aug 12, 2005

Furnaces maintenance to halt ferrochrome production

© Reuse this The planned temporary suspension of ferrochrome production at seven furnaces at the Boshoek, Rustenburg and Wonderkop operations of the Xstrata Merafe Chrome Venture – Xstrata Alloys and Merafe Resources – has been confirmed. The temporary suspensions are required to allow for maintenance on the furnaces and have been planned for the South African winter months when electricity demand and power costs are at their peak. Due to the inherent nature of the ferrochrome-manufacturing pro- cess, a major rebuild of a ferro-chrome furnace is required approxi- mately every five years of its operational life.

Among other things, the rebuild entails the repair of the shell and the replacement of the protective fire- resistant inner lining of the furnace.

All other control and protective mechanisms are also checked and, if necessary, repaired or replaced during this process. In addition to this major rebuild, a further shutdown for maintenance work on a furnace is usually necessary every two to three years.

It is anticipated that five of the furnaces will be brought back into operation after the winter period. A decision regarding the timing of the return to production of the remaining two furnaces will be made in the second half of the year, taking account of prevailing ferrochrome demand. As a consequence, planned production of the Xstrata Merafe Chrome Venture is expected to reduce by up to 78 000 tons this year.

In addition, the continued suspension of the two furnaces that form part of Xstrata’s Wonderkop joint venture with Samancor will reduce Xstrata’s planned production by a further 27 500 tons this year.
Edited by: sarah-leigh paul
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
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