A commitment to retaining an excellent standard of environmental awareness as well as contributing to the economic development of the region is an integral aspect of Simcoa Operations. We pride ourselves on being an environmentally friendly operation.
To minimise the impact of the plant on the environment, stringent guidelines are adhered to with particularly tight control over atmospheric and noise emissions. At Simcoa we are proud of the fact that we have no effluent streams and no visible or toxic emissions from the plant. Although we have a very comprehensive environmental management system (EMS), we are now looking to upgrade it further in order to be the first silicon smelter to have an ISO accredited EMS.
Our philosophy is that there is no such thing as ‘waste’, only by-products, and it is just a matter of identifying the appropriate customer! Residue timber, that is unsuitable for other applications, is sourced from both native and plantation forest harvesting operations, and also in the form of off-cuts from local hardwood sawmills. In the past this timber would have been stockpiled and burnt as waste. The residue timber is used to make charcoal for use as a reductant in the furnaces in the silicon making process.
Charcoal fines are also used in the manufacture of barbeque briquettes. Sawdust, a by-product from the sawmill, is sold for mulching or to poultry farmers.
Simcoa’s greatest ‘waste utilisation’ is the product known as silica fume, a by-product produced in the silicon smelting process. This by-product is filtered from the furnace off-gases and while it originally had to be put into a land fill site as waste, the fume is now collected in a series of bag filters before being sold and used in the production of high performance concrete and industrial refractories. We developed a market for fume in Australia and now market all the fume we produce and some produced by other smelters.
Not all of the quartz mined at Simcoa’s Moora quartzite mine is suitable for use in the furnaces to produce silicon. Undersized quartz is sold for use in landscaping and to create exposed aggregate concrete, which is used in driveways, patios and other architectural features. This is a rapidly growing business.