top of page

Neometals peeks at process turning trash into treasure

Neometals is looking into the PMR pilot plant process in Colorado that is aimed at extracting precious metals such as paladium. Credit: File

Neometals (ASX: NMT) has taken a first-hand look at the extraction of high-value metals palladium and gold from metallurgical testwork at the United State-based Precious Metals Recovery (PMR) pilot plant as it considers taking an 80 per cent stake in the high-tech operation.

A second trial has also now begun at the site in Colorado in a bid to replicate the success when using the preferred feedstock and re-agents process.

The company’s technical team witnessed the six-week testwork program that ran during the past two months to extract precious metals from third-party industrial waste streams. The purchase of two feedstocks combining for 4.28 million tonnes was processed in 10 campaigns consisting of 24 batches of about 120kg to 245kg to validate a range of scenarios.

Management says 11 batches were processed for palladium, nine batches for gold and two for a combination of the two metals. Two batches were discarded due to operational issues.

Encouraging results from eight 245kg batches of waste using the company’s preferred feedstock and re-agent chemicals returned a promising average of 3.75 ounces of palladium per tonne processed. The company said four 120kg batches produced 3.8 ounces of gold per tonne.

Management says the initial program helped identify the preferred combination of feedstock and re-agents, in addition to recovery techniques to maximise returns. It is now looking to confirm that the success can be replicated during its second trial, with completion expected this month and results to be returned in July.

Neometals noted that no decision to proceed has been made in terms of its potential acquisition. The phase two trial will form the basis for preparing an operational and financial model to consider the investment case for proceeding with its option.

A decision to exercise the option is subject to ongoing due diligence on the PMR business and its high-tech plant.

Neometals confirmed last week that it was considering a staged $10 million cash-and-shares package to secure the 80 per cent share in PMR, which has developed the hydrometallurgical process that selectively recovers precious metals from industrial waste streams. It believes it has the technological know-how to increase production by further refining PMR’s pilot-plant process.

Management says it sees the production of precious metals from industrial waste material as a natural fit with its green recycling technologies and provides a hedge to its principal business model of supplying and licensing its battery materials plant and technologies.

The company secured the option with a modest US$50,000 (AU$75,500) payment fee to PMR vendors GreenFuels Energy (GFE) and Strata Trust Company (STC). It is looking to complete the 80 per cent acquisition with a package of US$500,000 (AU$754,500) in shares and US$2.4 million (AU$3.62 million) in cash.

It will also be required to pay-out three further anniversary payments of US$2.37 million ($AU3.57 million). On completion, Neometals’ subsidiary Adamant Technologies would hold the 80 per cent interest in PMR, while the remaining 20 per cent will be retained by Sidvin Mintek – which is owned by the inventor of the PMR technology.

Neometals is also involved in a joint-venture (JV) with mining giant Mineral Resources, using electricity to turn purified lithium chloride from South American brines into a primary lithium hydroxide product and it has entered its final stage of testing at a facility in Canada.

The pilot testwork program being undertaken with Neometals’ proprietary “ELi” process is aimed at producing a converted material for use in the manufacture of electric vehicle (EV) batteries. The partnership is being conducted under the JV vehicle Reed Advanced Materials (RAM), with Neometals owning 70 per cent and MinRes holding the remaining 30 per cent.

RAM will test the ELi process at the NESi testing facility owned by Canadian electrolyser vendor NORAM, during a 1000-hour trial. The electrolysis pilot program will electrolyse lithium chloride brine from RAM’s successful purification campaign it undertook last year.

Samples will also be provided to cathode producers to enable a complete economic and technical assessment by the provider of the brine material used in testing.

The innovative ELi process converts lithium chloride solutions into lithium hydroxide monohydrate with the use of electrolysis, replacing huge volumes of reagents normally used with an industry-standard flowsheet. Neometals believes the process has the potential to deliver a meaningful change in the operating costs of the chemical converting businesses.

The company is expanding into several high-tech chemical extraction and conversion businesses, with the sky the limit if it can get the technology working on cue.

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact:



Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page