Cost-effective Air Separation Plants for the Mining and Mineral industry

CIM MEMO 2011
Abstract Today, manufacturing all over the world is being impacted by highly fluctuating supply – demand, extreme price volatility and tremendous market uncertainty. In particular, the mining and metal processing industry has to make informed investment decisions in this uncertain economic environment.

Plant owners – operators need to carefully examine their industrial gas needs in order to develop the most cost-effective industrial gas plant configuration. This can be done by partnering with an experienced engineering company that offers a complete technology portfolio for producing oxygen, nitrogen as well as other gases such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Ideally, the manufacturing and engineering companies have to work together as a single team to identify the most efficient and economic plant design. This includes an in-depth assessment of capital and operating costs, in order to deliver an optimal solution, taking plant reliability and process safety into account. It is important to consider all the industrial gases (O2, N2) as well as steam and utility needs at a given manufacturing complex, in conjunction with available feedstock and wastes to develop the best possible long term solution. These industrial gas requirements have to be examined over a long term horizon in a holistic manner.

Although cryogenic air separation is a mature technology which was first invented in 1902, the technology is being continuously improved to reduce cost and improve reliability. Today, air separation plants can be designed to be both low cost and high quality by using advanced engineering techniques, including proprietary process simulation and in house fabrication. Furthermore, project execution can be improved by using global procurement and construction capabilities. By employing all these techniques it is possible to make industrial gas plant simpler and cheaper for the mining and metals industry thereby enabling the manufacturer to focus on their core business.
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