The ISASMELT™ process emerged into the global metals industry during the 1990.and is based on the air-cooled top entry submerged Sirosmelt lance, developed by the CSIRO Division of Mineral and Process Engineering in the 1970s. Mount Isa Mines (now owned by Xstrata), recognised the potential in the novel top entry smelting concept and embarked on a development program that has been ongoing for more than 25 years.
Pilot plants, demonstration plants and commercial plants have processed a wide range of materials over this time and ISASMELT™ is now recognised by many as the most economically attractive copper and lead smelting processes in the world.
A key to the development success and the subsequent commercial success of the ISASMELT™ process is the deliberate involvement of operating personnel in operation and maintenance of early plants. Their insistence on keeping the process operation and equipment design as practical as possible is a key factor contributing to the overall success.
The first demonstration scale lead ISASMELT™ furnace was commissioned in Mount Isa, Australia in 1983. This was followed in 1987 with a demonstration scale copper ISASMELT™.
Commercial scale ISASMELT™ plants for lead and copper were commissioned in Mount Isa in the early 1990's. Since proving the viability of these two processes, commercial plants have been constructed throughout the world.
To learn more about the history of innovation and development for the ISASMELT process please download the following paper.