Elkem allocates significant resources to combat silicon and ferrosilicon dust in the work environment. In the production of (ferro-)silicon, dust is both a health hazard and a pollutant. Dust also means waste because dust particles are products that have gone astray.

Our ambition is to invest in new and better collection and filter systems to reduce the amount of dust at our plants. The goal is to reduce dust emissions by 30% by 2025, compared to 2015 standards. In 2019 we already reached the goal, having reduced dust emissions by 38% over the last four years. The long-term ambition is to reduce process dust to levels where exposure is acceptable without the use of respiratory protection.

Extremely high temperatures and ultrafine particles that disperse very quickly make it especially difficult to capture dust generated in some of the productions process. Elkem, together with R&D partners have successfully gained greater understanding of these challenges and developed better solutions for dust collection near sources with gas temperature of up to 1400 C.

The tapping area has one of the most difficult emission points for combatting dust in a smelting furnace building. Therefore, Elkem has been developing new types of highly effective local dust collection and extraction systems for the tapping area. As each furnace is unique with respect to processing and structural conditions, the technology must be tailor-made for each furnace. Elkem is also working on the development of extraction hoods for capturing process gas during casting. This is even more challenging than the tapping area because casting involves several moving systems and multiple points of dust generation.

All of Elkem’s Norwegian (ferro-)silicon plants have developed detailed plans regarding reduction of dust generation, improved dust collection and reduced personnel dust exposure. Tailormade extraction/collection systems will be implemented at all plants, and online dust measuring equipment will also be installed, so that all dust sources in the production halls can be identified, measured and, if possible, eliminated. Focus is also on how working routines and equipment can be changed to reduce or eliminate the generation of dust and exposure to it in the working environment. Results and ideas are shared across the divisions.

Dust emissions – total

The increase in dust emissions from 2016 to 2017 was due to the inclusion of Elkem Rana in the calculation and some operational problems with the filters at several plants. We were therefore pleased that the emissions for 2018 decreased to 1.8 million tonnes of dust (PM/particular matter), showing that continuous efforts and work pays off. In 2019 dust emissions were reduced even further, to 1.2 million tonnes. 

Total dust emissions:

2016 2017 2018 2019
1.9 million tonnes 2 million tonnes 1.8 million tonnes 1.2 million tonnes

Per divison:

  2018 2019
Elkem Carbon 132 tonnes 110 tonnes
Elkem Foundry Products 695 tonnes 311 tonnes
Elkem Silicon Materials 889 tonnes 773 tonnes
Elkem Silicones 66 tonnes 23 tonnes