Molten copper causes fire at Arizona smelter

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

MIAMI, Ariz. (AP) -- A smelter in east-central Arizona has been shut down after molten copper breached a processing vessel, causing a fire and explosions but no reported injuries, company officials said Thursday.

The incident occurred late Wednesday night in Miami, about 70 miles east of Phoenix, said Eric Kinneberg, a spokesman for Phoenix-based Freeport McMorRan Inc.

The molten material that spilled on the ground inside and around a building was contained and no longer flowing Thursday, Kinneberg said.

The explosions heard and felt by residents of Miami and the neighboring communities of Globe and Claypool happened when the molten copper came in contact with water, said A.J. Howell of the Tri-City Fire District.

An investigation of the cause and extent of the damage to the Miami smelter's electric arc furnace was being conducted, and the duration of the temporary shut-down of smelter operations and the impact on the production from the smelter remains uncertain, Kinneberg said.

The electric arc furnace is the second step in the smelting process, melting the concentrate before the copper is extracted.

The State Mine Inspector was on site Thursday. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality have been notified of the incident, Kinneberg said.

Some electrical cabling, a large mobile crane and a few pieces of small mobile equipment also were damaged, he said.

The Miami smelter has an annual capacity of to process about 700,000 tons of concentrate producing about 400 million pounds of copper and 700,000 tons of sulfuric acid.

The concentrate processed at Miami is almost exclusively sourced from Freeport-McMoRan's copper mines in Arizona and New Mexico.
 

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MIAMI, Ariz. (AP) -- A smelter in east-central Arizona is shut down after molten copper breached a processing vessel, causing a fire and explosions but no reported injuries.

Spokesman Eric Kinneberg of Phoenix-based Freeport McMorRan Inc. says the incident occurred late Wednesday night in Miami, which is ocated about 70 miles east of Phoenix.

Kinneberg says the molten material that spilled on the ground inside and around a building was contained and is no longer flowing.

Kinneberg did not immediately respond to requests of additional information on the incident.

A.J. Howell of the Tri-City Fire District said explosions heard and felt by residents of Miami and the neighboring communities of Globe and Claypool happened when the molten copper came in contact with water.

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MIAMI, Ariz. (AP) -- Authorities say molten copper breached a processing vessel, causing a fire and explosions but no reported injuries at a smelter in east-central Arizona.

A spokesman for Phoenix-based Freeport McMoran Inc. did not immediately respond to requests for information Thursday but media outlets report that the incident occurred late Wednesday night in Miami, located about 70 miles east of Phoenix.

According to reports, the molten material that spilled on the ground inside and around a building was contained, no longer flowing and left to cool while operations at the smelter were shut down.

Tri-Cities Fire Chief A.J. Howell said the explosions heard by residents of Miami and neighborhood communities occurred when the molten copper came in contact with water.

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Statement from Freeport McMoran Inc.

Freeport McMoRan’s Miami Smelter is dealing with an industrial accident and our prime concern is for the safety of our employees and the emergency response personnel.

There have been no injuries and all personnel have been accounted for.

This incident involved molten copper that breached one of our processing vessels and flowed onto the ground inside and around the west side of the smelter building.

This material caused some infrastructure in its path to catch fire.

The local fire department responded and is containing the resulting fire.

The molten material is contained, no longer flowing and is cooling.

The smelting process has been shut down and we are working to safely extinguish any remaining fire.

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