Itronics Inc., a growing and diversified fertilizer, silver, and minerals producer, today announced that it has developed a new refining process that uses silver to capture gold and other metals contained in scrap personal computer circuit boards (e-waste). The refining process produces silver bullion containing gold and other precious metals recovered from the e-scrap, copper matte that contains silver and is similar in copper content to high grade copper concentrate produced by copper mines, and copper and silver bearing glass slag.
Several aspects of the new technology put it in the "Breakthrough" category. This represents the first time silver is used to collect precious metals from e-scrap. The furnace technology is able to utilize most of the heat generated from combustion of the organic compounds contained in the waste circuit board materials, reducing the amount of purchased electrical power required to complete the process. Itronics separates a significant portion of the copper contained in the circuit boards into a separate saleable copper concentrate equivalent. The Company believes that simultaneous production of a separate copper product has never been done before, thus creating value that did not previously exist. The gold from the circuit boards and a small amount of copper are captured in the silver bullion simultaneously produced as a separate product.
This new refining technology is a "zero waste" process because all of the feed material is converted to useable products and the energy content is used by the process. This technology is both "cost reducing" and "energy saving" and is environmentally "green" because it recovers materials for sale that were previously wasted, maximizing sustainability. This remarkable new fire refining technology is expected to significantly enhance the Company's profitability as it is expanded from "minimum economic scale" operation to a meaningful commercial scale.
The new refining process utilizes the high grade silver concentrates the Company's expanded leaching circuit is now producing, along with personal computer scrap circuit boards as feed materials. The refining operation is now being scaled up to five times the scale of the test refining used to do the initial process development. Itronics anticipates making its first shipment of silver bullion produced by this process in January 2017 and to re-establish regular bullion sales in 2017.
"We are proud of Itronic's innovative research and development team that is continuing to use its chemical, science and engineering skills to develop new approaches to extract valuable metals and materials from different liquid and solid waste streams for purposes of returning them to productive use," said Itronics President John Whitney.