Tronox Regularly Invests in Efficient Energy-Generation Options

Jan 26, 2022 - Insights

It takes considerable energy to produce high-quality mineral sands and TiO2 products, particularly at our slag furnaces at the two smelter sites in Saldanha (Western Cape) and Empangeni (KwaZulu-Natal), South Africa. We work to manage our energy consumption to understand how we mitigate our impact on the local environment and on the climate from greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy availability issues have a direct impact on our operational efficiency. Tronox regularly invests in efficient energy-generation options, the reuse of process emissions, and renewable energy sources.

  • A wind turbine farm in Paraíba, Brazil, supplies renewable electricity to satisfy approximately 90 percent of the mine’s energy needs.
  • Combined heat and power plants generate electricity and steam for the Kwinana and Stallingborough Pigment Plants.
  • A CO gas facility reuses CO gas formed during our furnace smelting operations for various needs in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • A cogeneration plant utilizes previously flared furnace gases to fuel gas-fired engines for electricity production at the Saldanha Smelter.
  • A neighboring waste incineration plant in Botlek, the Netherlands, supplies renewable steam to satisfy 100 percent of the plant’s steam needs.

In addition, we are implementing a multi-year business transformation project, newTRON, to leverage technology to improve efficiency across all aspects of our global business, including our energy use.

We measure our energy consumption and energy intensity at each of our operating sites. Our year-to-year performance, analysis, and summary review of short-, medium- and long-term goals are discussed during the Safety, Health, Environment and Quality session on a quarterly basis with company leadership and all sites and regional directors.

The energy intensity required to produce our products is influenced by multiple factors, such as transportation distances, the energy mix of the fuel sources used and the production load of the pigment plants.

Tronox’s overall direct energy intensity decreased compared to 2019. Factors that contributed to the decrease were that the percentage of total production from mining locations increased by more than two percent in 2020 compared to the prior year, and a yield improvement at our Yanbu Pigment Plant created greater direct energy efficiency. Conversely, our Thann Pigment Plant saw an increase in direct energy intensity. Thann is dependent on the Thur River for cooling water. A dam repair resulted in a production decrease, and in turn, less efficient production. In addition, the fabrication unit for titanium tetrachloride (TiCl₄) production had a shutdown in 2020. The startup of this unit at the end of the year required a significant amount of direct energy.

The overall indirect energy intensity also decreased compared to 2019. Two key changes contributed to the decrease. The decommissioning process of the Paraíba Mine started in 2020, resulting in a stop of mining activities while production continued. The mining process was the biggest consumer of electricity and therefore this decrease caused a significant drop in indirect energy intensity for this location. Namakwa Sands and KwaZulu-Natal Sands produced more in 2020 compared to 2019. These sites account for around 50 percent of Tronox’s global indirect energy consumption, resulting in improved indirect energy intensity for both South Africa and the global business.

Download our full sustainability report here.

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