Northam Converter Dry Slag Granulation

A world-first in the PGM industry

Thabazimbi, South Africa | 2016-2018

First dry slag granulation system in the platinum industry.

Zero safety incidents

From lab-scale trials to fully-designed new system


  • Northam Platinum Limited recognized the potential benefits of investing in new dry granulation technology to support their smelting operation. However, a dry slag granulation system had not yet been deployed in the non-ferrous industry.
  • Although it has demonstrated success in the steelmaking industry for decades, adoption of a dry granulation solution in non-ferrous industries has been challenged by the technical risks associated with process uncertainties and by the financial risks associated with investing capital in new equipment.


  • To help mitigate the technical and financial risk, Hatch developed an innovative staged approach to implement the new technology which involved the design and fabrication of portable lab-scale and pilot-scale equipment that could be easily transported to Northam’s site, and then used for dry granulation of real molten samples taken directly from production streams.
  • These systems offered our client the opportunity to become familiar with the technology, evaluate technical and operational feasibility, generate real product samples, and generate new process data for full-scale design and implementation.
  • Following successful trials, in mid-2016 Northam contracted us for the basic engineering of a new dry granulation system for converting slag. This required Hatch to design new equipment suitable for use with platinum group metals (PGM) slag and entrained matte, which, based on our experience in this sector, needed to be different than what had been previously implemented for steelmaking slag.
  • We were then contracted for the design and supply of equipment, and to subsequently provide additional services for the completion of wrap-around detailed engineering, procurement, vendor management, construction management, and overall project and cost management.


  • In April 2018, we successfully handed over Northam's new dry granulation system—a world-first in the PGM industry—providing installation and commissioning.
  • The project was completed with zero safety incidents.
  • Dry granulation presents major advantages including improved safety, water-free processing, reduced cost, lower maintenance, potential for heat recovery, decoupling of primary and secondary processes, and production of higher-value products from slag.

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