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Winner: Lucya Yunus of Xstrata Copper North Queensland

PACE Zenith Awards

Young Achiever award sponsored by SICK

Winner: Lucya Yunus of Xstrata Copper North Queensland

As Metallurgist at the Xstrata Mount Isa Mines copper smelter, Lucya Yunus (pictured here) is responsible for technical, training and providing support to the operations, maintenance and management of the Feed Preparation, Primary Smelting and ESP Dust Leaching areas of the copper smelter. 

"I was able to work with Xstrata Copper when I graduated and have been working with them for three and half years now. In the first two years I was exposed to a lot of the processes and gained valuable experience. Coming into my third year, I was given a lot of freedom to confront some of the challenges and explore new ideas," said Lucya.

"So it was really good that I was allowed to go out into the plant and experiment with all the ideas I had. It has really worked out, I did manage to give a positive contribution to the company," she added.

Xstrata Copper's ISASMELT furnace experienced an accelerated brick wear of 260 mm per year. At that time Lucya was working as a graduate metallurgist in the copper smelter project team working on the Slag Slow-Cooling project but was promoted to the role of Primary Control Metallurgist to help determine the cause of the unusually high ISASMELT brick wear rate.

Lucya assisted the team in the investigation and recommended, trialed and monitored the implementation of a number of initiatives as well as some of her own solutions, of which she was particularly proud.

There is one achievement of which she is particularly proud. "That was getting brick wear (lowered) in an ISASMELT furnace. Last year we faced significant brick wear in our plant. Our operational and metallurgical teams implemented a solution that has given us one of the lowest brick wear rates in the world."

The lower brick wear rate equates to a directly attributable capital expense saving of $5 million, thanks to the reduced need for regular re-bricking maintenance projects.

Lucya Yunus (R) of Xstrata Copper accepts the award from Jeff Walker of SICK.

Lucya Yunus (R) of Xstrata Copper accepts the award from Jeff Walker of SICK, sponsor of the Young Achiever category. 

Lucya is obviously a valued member of the Mount Isa team as was pointed out by Xstrata Copper when nominating her for the PACE Zenith Awards. "Lucya is a passionate and diligent member of the Xstrata Copper team with problem-solving skills and technical abilities beyond her years of experience.

"She displays a desire for making valuable operational improvements for the company. Her innovative and tireless approach to developing and implementing cost-saving initiatives has resulted in increased profits and production efficiency, and helped us develop new ways to recover our resources."

Lucya's many proven skills meant that the company had the faith in her to establish a cost saving device to help recoup production losses which had amounted to 20-30 percent compared to previous years.

"At first, I didn't know how exactly I could contribute but then I thought about developing a cost tracking tool. From that simple tool, which is really just an Excel spreadsheet, we managed to generate a lot of ideas. One of the projects currently in progress is to minimise oxygen wastage and this can save about $80,000 per month."

"Each month we check oxygen costs and can show that we are actually saving oxygen costs by minimising the wastage. Each week the operational manager and superintendant are excited to have the cost review meeting so now we make it mandatory."

Lucya's enthusiasm for her work is genuine as she sees direct results from her initiatives and she was pleased to win an award for the first time in her life that recognised these efforts.

In June she was off to Zambia to attend a conference based around her brick wear work, showing that the future is indeed bright for the young metallurgist.

SICK drives innovative sensor intelligencePACE Zenith Awards 2012: Young Achiever award is proudly sponsored by SICK
SICK Pty Ltd
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