Onça Puma Furnace 1 Rebuild

Vale | Brazil | 2006–2010

220,000 tpa

production capacity ferronickel

53,000 tons

of nickel

2.2 million

man hours with 0 LTIs

65 weeks

project duration (to first metal)


  • Vale’s first ferronickel operation in Brazil and one of the largest in the world
  • When smelting operations halted due to the failure of two furnaces from another supplier, we investigated the facility
  • Completely rebuilt the furnace crucible, calcine transfer system, and slag handling and upgraded to the cooling water system
  • Schedule and reliability were paramount due to already significant production losses


  • We provided engineering, procurement, and construction management services. Maximized the reuse of existing equipment with parallel engineering and fabrication activities to save time
  • Our binding-system design was adapted to the existing crucible. An innovative new spring-loaded system provided the necessary binding forces and ensured furnace integrity during cycling and upset conditions
  • Water piping below the furnace and open-film-water cooling from the lower sidewall were removed. This improved overall plant safety by avoiding metal and slag leaks or run-outs
  • Monitoring and control systems were installed to facilitate corrective action and protect furnace integrity during upset conditions and furnace shutdown


  • Work was successfully conducted in the plant’s limited space and completed in just over a year, compared to 3 years for the original furnace ... a world record for projects of this nature!
  • A record production of 24.4 thousand tons of Ni in 2015
  • Remote community of Ourilandia do Norte had its economy restored
  • Project was executed on time with an 11-month schedule and on budget

Project numbers

US$219 million CAPEX on an 11-month schedule
85 MW the highest sustained average power of operation
400 m² furnace size
1,200 tons of steel structure
2,900 tons of refractory
270 copper cooling elements
44 weeks project duration (to first feed)

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