Sinter sorter upgrade for steelworks

Agglomerate: Chunkier materials are transported along large conveyor belts next to the sinter plant at the Port Kembla steelworks. Pictures: Sylvia Liber

Agglomerate: Chunkier materials are transported along large conveyor belts next to the sinter plant at the Port Kembla steelworks. Pictures: Sylvia Liber

The Port Kembla steelworks needs a new process line for handling “fines” from iron ore, operators BlueScope has said in a planning proposal.

BlueScope has lodged a development application with Wollongong City Council to develop the new “sinter sequence”.

The new sequence would reduce reduce the amount of sinter fines generated, and would replace functions currently performed by mobile equipment and trucks.

A screening process would separate the lumps from the smaller-grade dust-like particles, which would be fed back into the plant to be “agglomerated” at high heat into a larger, porous mass – a process called sintering.

Feel the burn: The sintering process takes place at high temperatures, collecting the fines into larger lumps before it is charged into the blast furnace.

Feel the burn: The sintering process takes place at high temperatures, collecting the fines into larger lumps before it is charged into the blast furnace.

This is so the larger materials can be fed into the blast furnace to make steel. if the ore is too fine, would get blown into the gas uptake equipment, or affect the the pressure inside the furnace.

Corrugating the iron: The sinter plant at BlueScope in Port Kembla - with cladding made from the steelworks' most famous product.

Corrugating the iron: The sinter plant at BlueScope in Port Kembla - with cladding made from the steelworks' most famous product.

The new sequence could operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, processing about 240 tonnes of small sinter per hour.

BlueScope has proposed building this transfer system with conveyor belts covered at transfer points. A new structure would enclose the screening station where the finer particles were removed.

BlueScope said while fugitive dust emissions may be generated during construction, the net effect would be to remove 19,000 truck movements on internal steelworks roads each year.

As well as iron ore the “fines” contain a mix of coke, recycled iron, as well as purifying or cleansing chemicals called fluxes.

BlueScope said the development would conform with its existing pollution licences.

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