Saturday, May 23, 2009

Molten Ore in Macedonia

I was honored by a VIP tour of the FENI Industries plant an hour outside of Skopje, Macedonia today. The nickel plant in Kavadarci is supplied with nickel ore of varying concentrations from deposits at the Cunico Group’s mines in the Balkans, as well as imports of third party ore from Indonesia, Albania, New Caledonia and Turkey.

Probably most people do not realize the importance of nickel for modern civilization.

This is true process management on a massive scale. A series of relatively simple steps when in small volumes, with incredibly complex issues when dealing in hundreds of tons on a 24/7 schedule. Amazingly, they also have the longest outdoor conveyor I have ever heard of... I think stretching over 40 kilometers (in 7 links) through hills and valleys from the mine an hours drive away. Built during the communist days... and it works very well through today.

I was lucky to be there near a final step of moving the molten ore to the final heating process to separate the slag from the nickel. Makes me want to live a good life and avoid the nasty consequences. As the operations manager said, "everything is here but the guy with the horns".

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