Located almost at the end of the Hardangerfjord on the west coast of Norway, the Tyssedal ilmenite upgrading facility has been producing titanium slag (also known as upgraded ilmenite) and high purity pig iron (HPPI) since 1986. It is the only such facility in Europe and only one of five in the world. The current capacity is 200ktpa of titanium slag and 110ktpa of high purity pig iron.
Local availability of ilmenite and access to competitively priced hydro power
Ilmenite is the key raw material used, which is currently mainly sourced from a long-life mine close by in Norway.
Power is sourced from a nearby hydroelectric power plant. By virtue of a long-term leasing arrangement pricing is defined for around two-thirds of power consumed.
Why upgrade ilmenite?
The titanium slag is predominantly sold to pigment producers. The pigment producers themselves are only interested in the titanium dioxide (TiO2) contained in their feedstocks. The lower the TiO2 content of the feedstock and correspondingly the higher the impurities content, the greater the waste products that are generated during the pigment manufacture which leads to environmental problems and associated costs.
The smelting process at Tyssedal involves the extraction of the iron from the ilmenite with everything else reporting to the slag. The separation of the iron lifts the titanium dioxide content from approximately 44% in the ilmenite to approximately 80% in the slag. As a result, the pigment producer customers have less waste to deal with.
High purity pig iron – a valuable co-product
The high purity pig iron produced as part of the smelting process (which is renowned for the low phosphorus and sulphur contents) is sold to a varied and large number of customers, and include manufacturers of windmill parts, automotive parts, engine parts, tools and heavy castings.
Potential for future expansion
The security of the additional ilmenite supply that will be available when Grande Côte comes on stream provides Tyssedal with expansion opportunities. A feasibility study is currently underway to assess the potential for a second furnace, thereby doubling the capacity of the plant.