Itronics Starts R&D to Recover Tin and Copper

In January this year, USA-based Itronics Inc., a producer of fertilizers and silver products, announced that it has recently started research and development to recover tin and copper from the silver bullion being produced by its printed circuit board refining pilot plant.

According to the company, tin was on the list of 35 minerals deemed critical to the “U.S. National Security and the Economy” published by the U.S. Department of Interior on May 18, 2018. “Our recovery of all of the tin contained on the circuit boards positions the company to be a world leader in tin recovery from discarded printed circuit boards, a technology advancement of global importance,” Itronics’ President Dr. John Whitney was cited. It would also position the firm to be the first domestic printed circuit board refiner to recover tin and antimony.

As reported, Itronics had previously announced that its technology recovers all the copper, tin, silver, gold, and palladium (palladium is a Platinum Group Metal, PGM) carried on the discarded circuit boards being refined. “The technology also recovers all the antimony, which is a fire-retardant mineral that is used to make the circuit boards fireproof,” the American firm underlined. “These metals are contained in the company’s silver bullion which is sold to a finish refiner for separation and sale.”

Itronics has performed laboratory testing which indicates that the copper and tin may be separated from the other metals contained in the bullion. It will pursue development of this new metal separation technology. “The long-term plan is to become a producer of high purity metals, including the strategic metals tin and antimony, using the company’s hydrometallurgy and pyrometallurgy technologies. Itronics would benefit if the U.S. decides to provide incentives to increase domestic production of ‘critical minerals’, including tin, antimony, and palladium.” According to the U.S. Department of Interior, there is no mine production of tin in the United States. All the new tin that is required by the U.S. economy is imported, the company gave account. The most important foreign countries in order of importance that supply tin to the United States are Indonesia, Peru, Malaysia, Bolivia, and Brazil.

According to Itronics, the company is now operating its printed technology, which refines circuit boards extracted from e-waste, on a pilot scale at its manufacturing plant in Reno, Nevada. The circuit boards are converted into energy which is used in the refining process, and silver bullion and silver-bearing glass which are sold, thereby eliminating the waste from the environment.

Photo: O. Kürth

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