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Engineer back in office to fulfill her life’s ‘mission’

China Daily| Updated : October 17, 2022

Rather than sit back and enjoy her retired life, Yang Yan chose to return to her office to fulfill her "mission".

Yang, a senior engineer at Jinchuan Nickel Cobalt Research and Design Institute, should have hung up her spikes in March, but the 55-year-old accepted being rehired after her earlier retirement.

"Alloys that we produce are applied in specific industries such as aviation, nuclear and solar fields. We are entrusted with the duty and mission of serving the needs of these special fields. I want to continue our scientific projects by coming back," Yang said.

Joining Jinchuan in 1989 after graduating from the University of Science and Technology Beijing with a major in metallurgy, Yang has participated in work involving the development of metal materials, metallurgy process research and project design and planning over the past three decades.

Dedicated to scientific work, Yang has taken a leading role in Jinchuan's new nonferrous metal product development and resource utilization.

In 2016, Jinchuan decided to invest in the WP & RKA laterite nickel mine project in Indonesia. However, the group was confronted with its inexperience in conducting feasibility research and a preliminary design for such a project. Yang was then asked to help to solve the pressing needs of the project.

"That was Jinchuan's first overseas collaboration project in terms of ferronickel. Our group has never adopted the rotary kiln-electric furnace for smelting ferronickel, so we had to look up relevant studies, consult others and even conduct tour inspections with our counterparts," Yang said.

Concentrations of water, nickel and iron in ores are vital in designing the project, as these are essential in material balance calculations. If one condition changes, the calculation and analysis work had to start all over again, according to Yang.

Under these pressures, Yang and her colleagues, a team of three, worked day and night on the project design.

"I was assigned to have 15-day training in the United States during my work on the project," Yang said.

Despite the time difference, Yang was busy with daily classes being held in the US while working with the domestic team to ensure the smooth progress of the project.

"It was extremely exhausting during that period," she said.

After almost six months of effort, they completed the challenge to hand in the project's design scheme, contributing to Jinchuan's first step in the laterite nickel business.

Doing something new without enough experience in Jinchuan happens to be Yang's work and specialization. She is in charge of the research and development of high-temperature alloys.

"It is Jinchuan's convention to get over technological difficulties through cooperation with universities and colleges," she said.

Before 2014, there were no high-temperature alloys in Jinchuan. Now the group has developed its product portfolio of cast, powder metallurgy and wrought superalloys, which are essential materials in the aviation, military and other sectors.

"We have grown out of nothing, and now our high-temperature alloy business is taking shape," Yang said.

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