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M.M. Cabeza1, I. Sanchez2

1Vigo University (SPAIN)
2University of Alicante (SPAIN)
The studies of extractive metallurgy for minning engineering have been changed in the last years. The development in process engineering at the industry is responsible of this. To successfully meet the economic and technological challenges, the metallurgical companies, like many others, they must optimize their processes for which there are methodologies such as Process Integration and Process Simulation. In both cases, the use of software is essential. However to translate this philosophy to the class is really difficult for the complexity of the processes. The flow diagram of a metallurgical process from the ore to the metal includes sequenced operations, with several substances and recirculation of material. Therefore we have developed a new tool that allows quickly and easy to evaluate full processes by the student. It is used in the practical class (or at home by Internet) and the student acquires the skills necessary to face with the new challenges in the industry.
We have implemented a program to evaluate and modify the metallurgical process pyrometallurgical production of copper from copper ore. This is used by the student and is structured as follows: It is analyzed the pyrometallurgical process of obtaining blister copper concentrate from mine, to know the equipment, the flow of materials into and out of the system, the variables that influence the process and energy needs. We give to the student the real data of the entrance of material in plant and he has to introduce in the program, after this necessary step, it is ready use and gives simultaneous mass and energy balance of the full metallurgical process. Due to thermodynamic calculations, has been added in Visual Basic a reference to the thermodynamic database of HSC. Additionally, it has been programmed to optimize the process in each case, obtaining the input variables that are susceptible to change in order to achieve energy savings. The last part of the program is the most interesting for the student because allows to understand that is possible an efficient use of energy by modification of the process. We have changed the classical study of the metallurgical process: operation by operation in single unit to a new system that integrates the full process. We have observed an important increase of the percentage of students that succeeded, and also of the qualifications that they obtained. They show more interest by this new system.