Located in Tyssedal, southwestern Norway, Eramet Titanium & Iron's (ETI) metallurgical conversion plant produces titanium dioxide slag and high purity pig iron from ilmenite supplied by Grande Côte Operations (GCO) in Senegal.
Since the start-up of the company in 1986, ETI has used a state-of-the-art process smelting ilmenite to produce titanium slag and high purity pig iron. It is the only plant in Europe using such process and only one of 8 plants (outside China) worldwide. The plant is unique as the production involves a two-stage process:
- Prereduction in a rotary kiln,
- Smelting in an electric furnace.
During the prereduction process ilmenite is pelletized and pre-reduced with coal in a rotary kiln, before the pre-reduced pellets are fed to the three-phase arc furnace. In the conventional process used by other producers, ilmenite is fed directly to the smelting furnace, where all the reduction is carried out.
The molten iron is collected at the bottom of the furnace and refined to specific grades before being cast into ingots. The titanium-rich slag is extracted above the ferrous phase, crushed, screened and stored in five concrete silos with a total capacity of 43,000 tons. From these silos, the slag is transported to ships for bulk shipment to customers worldwide; and the pig iron is transported by truck to customers in Sweden and Norway. For other consumers the pig iron is mainly shipped by bulk vessel shipments. ETI's slag is used for the production of TiO2-pigment (both sulfate and chloride process) and for the production of titanium metal.
ETI’s climate commitment
Being located in an area with substantial production of hydroelectric energy, the plant is well situated with regard to securing green energy for the future.
In order to become climate neutral by 2050, ETI intends to replace coal with hydrogen for the reduction of ilmenite at the prereduction-stage in Tyssedal. In order to achieve this, the company is now starting a multi-year development run. ETI's hydrogen project is one of two Norwegian projects that are part of a European IPCEI project (Important Project of Common European Interest) for industrial use of hydrogen.
Through the project, technology will be developed to allow ETI to replace 85% of coal consumption with hydrogen in the future, i.e. a reduction of CO2 emissions of more than 80 %.
The introduction of bio-carbon at the smelting furnace is also an option to be considered in the years to come.
A little history
To tell the story of ETI, we have to go back to the 19th century in Norway. At that time, the metallurgical group Tinfos decided to develop hydroelectric energy and then, to exploit this energy, it developed factories equipped with electric furnaces to produce steel, calcium carbide and silicomanganese.
In 1989, Tinfos bought the plant from the State : it becomes "Tinfos Titanium & Iron" and produced TiO² from ilmenite and Norwegian coal. Then in 2008, Eramet bought 56% of Tinfos' capital, and all of it in 2009. On this occasion, the plant is renamed “Eramet Titanium & Iron.”
At the time, TiO² products were not Eramet's core business. The Group therefore decided to set up a value chain from the mine to the processing plant. This is how Eramet launches Grande Côte Operations in Senegal in 2014, to develop mineral sands. In the summer of 2011, the company “TiZir” (“Ti” for “Titanium” and “Zir” for “Zircon”) was created. It brings together the Norwegian plant, which becomes “TiZir Titanium & Iron” (TTI), and the Senegalese mine.