Several different processes can be used for copper production. The traditional process is based on roasting ores containing copper sulfide, smelting in an electric furnace to produce copper matte (copper-iron sulfide) and blister copper, which is further refined to cathode copper. Another common process, flash smelting, uses the energy released during oxidation of the sulfur in the ore. These flash techniques reduce the energy demand to produce cathode copper. Newer processes such as ISASMELT are replacing roasting and smelting. Peirce-Smith and Hoboken are the most common converters. The matte from the furnace is charged to converters, where the molten material is oxidized in the presence of air to remove the iron and sulfur impurities (as converter slag), forming blister copper. Blister copper is further refined as anode copper (99.5 percent pure copper), which is subsequently used in electrolytic refining.
Refractory solutions are available in a variety of leading brick and castable formulations that combat high temperatures as well as the erosive and corrosive effects of slag. HarbisonWalker International specially engineers products to meet the specific lining demands of primary smelting, converter, and anode furnaces.
HWI offers SUPER NARMAG® FG, NARMAG® FG, SUPER NARMAG® 148 CU, and NARMAG® 60 CU. These products are ideal because they are direct-bonded refractories. Direct bonding improves both high-temperature strength and erosion resistance. Fused-grain magnesite-chrome brick is a good choice for more severe environments. The method of furnace operation determines the type of refractory used.