Any chemical and or mining engineers out there?

So, amongst the vast readership of this site are there any chemical or mining engineers?

I\’m hoping to find someone who can give me a back of the envelope estimate.

I\’ve got a waste stream. Got a method of extracting the material I want from it. Know what that material is worth and the market for it.

Good Oh!

The one thing I\’ve not got a handle on is what the likely costs of that extraction process are. It\’s not a hugely complex process…could be done pretty much by swirling the waste in acid, even alcohol. Add a bit of sieveing maybe, get to a nice solution containing my desired bit and leaving the other 99% behind and from there on in it\’s even simpler.

I can argue from analogy (a different but related process) that costs might be $100 to $200 per tonne waste processed. But I really don\’t know whether costs for this specific process are likely to be £10 a tonne, £100 a tonne or £1,000.

So is there anyone who actually has a background in this sort of thing (Mr. Remittance Man perhaps?), you know, actually knows how to do stuff in the real world, who could cast a quick eye over the idea?

9 thoughts on “Any chemical and or mining engineers out there?”

  1. Depends so much on the actual constitution of waste stream (particle size, metallurgy, etc.) you could have huge variance in cost difference (20-500% of estimate), all down to detail of the samples. That’s my experience with gold tailings anyway!

    Only way to do it properly is to sample & test it, depending on what it is, but a simple concentration process with no metallurgical nasties should cost you a couple of bucks (US) a ton + reagents.

  2. Teaching Granny to Suck Eggs

    Why not put the job out for contract to a few existing commercial operators? Whatever estimates they give, you will at least know the cost of doing it yourself will probably be lower.

    Tim adds: Good idea but still way too early for that. Still trying to find out whether it’s even worth spending the time to make a few phone calls….

  3. Shouldn’t be very expensive assuming you’ve got a reasonable volume. Even with a small volume a batch process might still be cost effective.

    Do you have any figures for concentration? That would be the best starting point for a mass balance.

  4. Without seeing the numbers etc here are a few thoughts:

    In its entirity the classic process would be: Crush ore – mill ore – soak ore in chemicals – seperate crap from liquid – get goodies out of liquid – refine goodies into saleable product.

    From what you say the ore is actually previously treated stuff that got chucked away. That means it is already crushed and milled down to the right size so you’ve lost a good chunk of your costs straight away.

    I can’t say what the refining to final product bit might cost ‘cos you don’t give the details but, according to considered opinion round here, standard solvent extraction* should cost in the order of $10 to $20 per ton**.

    Obviously this might vary according to what chemicals you were using (angels tears are more expensive than rain water, after all) and how complicated was the getting the goodies out of the liquid bit (electro-winning which might allow recycling of your solvent or some chemical process that destroyed the solvent). But for real back of a postage stamp calcs those numbers are probably good enough to start with.

    *The soak ore in chemicals – seperate crap from liquid – get goodies out of liquid bit.

    **Possibly as low as $10 to $15 per ton. Local opinion varies on the upper limit but not the lower.

    PS Anything more technical is going to cost you whisky 🙂

  5. An engineer isn’t quite what you want; you need one (like Remittance Man, apparently) with an idea of the various available methods, their applicability to the specific problem from a technical standpoint, and a grasp of the costs likely to be associated with each.

    I don’t have a handle on the size of your waste stream but know that there are companies that routinely purchase same for a variety of recoveries (Mitsubishi comes to mind, though the instance of which I knew was gaseous effluents from petro-refineries.)

    From an entrepreneurial angle, it might make sense (especially after you’ve got some handle on costs) to simply offer the “raw material”–the stream itself–to potential users of the recovered material. How you solve that problem depends also on a few other factors: 1.) whether or not the investment made in the recovery process could be more generally applied, i.e., made the basis for another business “piggybacking” on the original; 2.) whether there might be a cost-reducing aspect to having removed the target substance and, thus, avoiding a disposal cost; and, 3.) the demand picture, especially the number of potential users of the recovered substance (the more there are, the safer would be investment in recovery; the fewer, the greater chance that a customer could have you “by the nuggets” at some point down the line).

    Just sayin’.

  6. If you are going to semi-process the waste to extract one component, why not go the whole hog? Fully process the waste into “nasty” and “harmless”, and charge the waste provider for that service?

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