What Is Urban Mining?

City Buildings

The ever-increasing demand for rare earth elements and precious metals, paired with the push-for-greener technologies has given rise to a new method of mining called urban mining. In short, urban mining is the process of recovering compounds and elements from used products, buildings or waste. Sepro Urban Mining has the ability to maximize the recovery of these rare elements which can be reused instead of harvesting new raw materials from our planet.

Urban mining is the process of recovering compounds and elements from used products, buildings, or waste.

There are many different methods we use to recover these elements:

Recovering E-Waste

E-waste (electronic waste) includes all types of technology we used in our daily lives – from computers, laptops, to televisions and our smartphones. Your smartphone alone contains a number of elements – some quite rare – including gold, silver, palladium, platinum, aluminum, copper, yttrium, lanthanum, terbium, neodymium, gadolinium, praseodymium and the list goes on.

There is about 0.034 kg of gold in your typical smartphone. This amount may not seem much, but when you factor in that over 2 billion people have a smartphone, and the average person will upgrade their phone every year or two, a substantial amount of e-waste is created. The e-waste recovered from one million smartphones could deliver 34 kg of gold, 14,000 kg of copper, 15 kg of palladium, and 350 kg of silver.

To further put this into perspective, one tonne of smartphones can yield up to 300 times more gold than one ton of gold ore.

The small components of these devices pose challenges for most recyclers and if mishandled can spell disaster for the workers’ health and the environment. Sepro Urban Mining has worked with a number of partners to develop environmentally safe processes, free of toxic chemicals, for the efficient recovery of these elements from e-waste. The recovered concentrates can then be sold directly to refiners.

Incinerator Bottom Ash

The product leftover from waste-to-energy and incineration facilities is called incinerator bottom ash (IBA). As waste is incinerated, it produces steam and heat which turns a steam turbine then voila, electricity is generated. The residue left over from the waste often contains materials that do not fully combust, like precious metals. Sepro Urban Mining has developed a proprietary system to recover these metals in an environmentally-conscious and efficient way.

How is it done?

Powerful magnets are used to separate coarse metals from the IBA before recovery of fine particles can be achieved. Our Fine Slag Treatment Plant module uses Falcon Gravity Concentrators to recover precious metals including gold, silver, platinum, at sizes previous thought unrecoverable.

Our wet process drastically reduces and in some cases eliminates dust created during the entire process. This helps with achieving the necessary standards of environmental sustainability as well.

Lead Glass Treatment

You might be surprised to learn that older monitors and TVs with CRT displays as well as crystal housewares can contain up to 40% lead oxide. This can pose health risks to the workers and the environment when it comes time to recycle these glass materials. Leaded glass needs to be separated from the non-leaded glass before recycling can occur. Sepro Urban Mining has the equipment necessary to separate leaded from non-leaded glass in bulk, allowing safe and efficient processing of both types of glass.  

Custom Urban Mining Solutions

Sepro Urban Mining has a dedicated team focused on developing new ways to recover precious elements from urban waste. With decades of industry experience, we’re able to offer superior, cost-effective metal separation equipment and processes for the new era of urban mining.

If you’re looking for any of the above services, or need a custom urban mining solution, contact Sepro Urban Mining today.

2019-04-16T14:51:28-07:00 February 12th, 2019|