Metal Extraction Process Optimisation

ProSynth enjoys an excellent reputation for its flexible, “will do” attitude towards business opportunities in any area of chemistry. We were recently presented with a project to design, develop and optimise the extraction of nickel and cobalt from various mined ore samples, for use in EV battery manufacture.

While this opportunity was apparently far removed from our traditional activities, initial discussion with the customer revealed that the chemical operations required (digestion, pH adjustment, selective extraction using organic complexing agents/solvents etc.) were, in some ways, far less demanding than what is usually expected from us.

The next hurdle we had to overcome was that our Environmental Agency (EA) Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) permit did not allow us to operate the necessary inorganic chemistry on our site. While we were concerned that this might be a “showstopper”, we worked closely with our EA Officer to secure the necessary temporary exemption to our permit, which enabled us to take on the project but only in a “not for profit” manner.

It was also apparent that the fundamental analytical requirement for this project would be access to Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES), which we did not have in-house.

We looked very seriously in investing in the order of £100k to set up the facility at ProSynth but were persuaded that, given the tight timelines required and the associated expertise needed, outsourcing the analytical requirement to an established third-party provider was the best option.

We already have an excellent working relationship with Exeter Analytical Services and they not only offered ICP-OES service but also substantial experience/expertise in the analytical technique.

Given this, we negotiated a mutually beneficial, exclusive contract with them to analyse the 600+ samples we would produce during the project.

We are currently approximately two thirds the way through the project and the customer is delighted with the progress we have made to date. On the back of this success, encouraged by our customer, ProSynth has decided to offer and promote the same service to the global mining industry to determine if this capability can offer a new and exciting revenue stream to the Company.