Copper lifecycle
Elemetal developed and patented a unique washing process (Elemetal Copper Recovery process) to extract copper and zinc from waste-to-energy bottom ash. Large scale tests have been performed (500 tonnes of bottom ash per test) and the basic engineering for a full scale plant has been completed.

Bottom ash is often richer in copper than most copper ore grades. This copper is partly recovered but mainly ends up as a building material under highways or on a landfill. Particle size distribution of bottom ash typically varies between 0 and 40 mm. The primary ECR process is suitable for direct application on this fraction. Since conventional mechanical separation techniques are becoming more inefficient on this fraction, this offer an added value. Zinc is also not retreived from bottom ash through concentrional methods.

The product from the ECR process is grade A cathodic copper, which can directly be sold on the copper market. Disadvantage of conventional mechanical separation techniques is the production of a lower grade mix of non-ferro metals which will need further refining steps.

Advantages ECR on bottom ash, compared to conventional processes:

  • Copper and zinc recovery from fine (0-4mm) fraction of bottom ash
  • Higher copper and zinc recovery from coarse (4+mm) fractions
  • High quality end product
  • Complete control of value chain
  • The ECR process can also be applied on other copper / zinc containing streams such as:

  • Copper concentrates from conventional processing
  • Waste streams with too low copper concentrations for value retreival with current methods.
  • Waste streams with small material (0-4mm), on which conventional methods do not work