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.