Refractory Management & Chemical cleaning - Nyrstar

Since 2005, Veolia has been working with Nyrstar to improve the efficiency of its operations, safety management and asset management, leading to savings of $1.2 million.

Nyrstar is an integrated mining and metals business, with market leading positions in zinc and lead. Nyrstar’s smelter in Port Pirie, South Australia, is a significant contributor to the State’s economy through the lead, zinc, silver and gold it produces and exports. In order to achieve optimal smelter performance necessary to meet critical production targets, Nyrstar required a refractory management specialist with a proven track record in safety, environmental management and asset management. 

The strong relationship developed between Nyrstar and Veolia has delivered a world-class partnership that has set a benchmark for refractories performance through continuous improvement initiatives, smarter processes and technologies. 

Veolia has already implemented the following improvements for the Nyrstar operation:

  • Audited and documented all refractory assets on site 
  • Established a baseline for future performance improvements
  • Introduced hydration testing for specialised mag chrome bricks used in refractory lining – to check if bricks were still usable
  • Improved the refractory lining for the short rotary furnace that has reduced operating times and the cost of production
  • Procured cost-effective and better performing refractory bricks. 

A core component of Veolia’s refractories management capability is its approach to asset management. Veolia’s asset management model defines the most important factors involved in decision-making with respect to operational and managerial levels. The approach also involves deciding the remaining age value for critical repair items such as refractory lining of a smelter. 


  • Day-to-day refractory maintenance
  • Shut down and major repair management
  • Asset management
  • ​Safety management
  • Facilities management

More recently, Veolia's Chemical Cleaning  specialists in Victoria worked with our Global team of experts to develop a tailor made solution to chemically clean Nyrstar’s newly constructed boiler. This used a unique combination of chemical cleaning and other specialised equipment. Read more information about this solution in this Chemical Cleaning Case Study