Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia

MIM Copper Smelter Upgrade

Fluor provided engineering, procurement, and construction management to upgrade MIM's copper smelter, increasing production capacity to 250,000 tons of copper a year. There were some useful benefits for the wider community.

Sulphur dioxide gas from the smelter is vented to the atmosphere from a high chimney, which usually deflects it away from Mount Isa city. But when the prevailing winds are unsuitable, MIM closes down its smelters until the wind changes.

The upgraded smelter redirected most of the sulphur dioxide to a sulphuric acid production plant. A million tons a year of that sulphuric acid was used by WMC Fertilizers in a plant to produce superphosphate from phosphate rock at nearby Duchess. Until then, Australia had to import this widely used fertilizer.

Fluor worked with MIM to use routine maintenance periods to modify the smelting plant and connect to the acid plant by “grasshopper leg” transfer ducts. Fluor prepared the design using 3D computer modeling to eliminate clashes with existing plant and services. Trial assembly ensured that the smelter's operations proceeded smoothly without interruption to ongoing copper production.