New technology is emerging as a potential standard to address two market sectors totaling $193 billion, through eco-friendly methods for the hydrometallurgical extraction of precious metals ….
Pioneered by EnviroLeach Technologies Inc. (CSE: ETI, OTCQB: EVLLF, Forum), this innovation treats materials in the primary and secondary metals sectors. Using its proprietary non-cyanide, water-based, neutral pH treatment process, the Company extracts precious metals from ores, concentrates, and E-waste.
The Gold mining sector is dominated by the use of cyanide and smelting as the leading extraction methods.
Cyanide’s toxicity creates a significant environmental risk for mine operators and local communities. Smelting is predominantly used to process gold concentrates today but is an off-site process that delays payment for the miners and causes extensive CO2 emissions. EnviroLeach’s technology provides an effective and cost-competitive alternative to these methods in a world where attitudes to sustainability are changing and ESG factors are becoming increasingly important.
The same technology is applied to the burgeoning E-waste sector around high value printed circuited board assemblies (PCBA). Most PCBAs have a contained metal value of over $4,000 per tonne and are typically processed by smelters outside of North America. With growing concerns around the international recycling of E-waste and PCBAs, EnviroLeach is well positioned as the only competitive, domestic, scalable and sustainable alternative to the encument process. EnviroLeach currently operates a commercial-scale 3,600 TPA PCBA facility in Surrey, British Columbia.
To find out more about the Company, Stockhouse Editorial sat down with Chief Executive Officer of EnviroLeach, Duane Nelson.….
Thank you for joining us. First, let’s bring readers up to speed who may not be familiar with EnviroLeach, can you give us a brief rundown on your unique platform?
EnviroLeach has developed a very unique technology platform. The Company’s chemistry formulations were developed to recover gold in both ores and E-Waste in an environmentally friendly and sustainable fashion. As your readers will be aware, cyanide and smelting are the incumbent processes for the extraction of gold from ores and concentrates. Cyanide has been really the only hydrometallurgical process used since the 1870’s. But its use today faces many challenges and restrictions due to its toxicity. Governments, regulators, communities and certainly NGOs are opposing or blocking its use in mining. Our chemistry is based simply on FDA approved ingredients, water and electricity. We are able to recycle, regenerate and reuse the solution which eliminates wastewater or any toxic discharge. The same chemistry platform has successfully been applied to extract precious metals from printed circuit boards. The value capture from E-Waste is a significant market. The UN is projecting the PCBA market to exceed 3 million tonnes per year by 2026. We offer both sectors a cost-effective and sustainable solution.
The Company’s vision is to partner with miners and e-waste recyclers across the globe, producing gold directly and avoiding smelter and shipping costs. I understand that there is immense opportunity as there are literally thousands of gold miners and e-waste recyclers that could benefit from this technology but what would it take to achieve this, and what kind of timeline does the Company forecast?
With increased metals prices, gold mining companies are now striving to advance their projects through development and into production. At the same time, ESG factors are becoming increasingly important. Because of the inherent risks associated with mining, it is reasonable stakeholders and investors are using ESG factors in their investment and support decisions. We are convinced that responsible mining is the future, but it still has to present a positive business case. Our solution delivers both. We have worked with many companies to demonstrate technical and cost effectiveness. Without a doubt, we can help miners build social capital, reduce their environmental footprint, and enhance their operations. For EnviroLeach, as we validate our processes in commercial applications, we believe the market will respond very positively.
We have developed a licensing model to deliver a turn-key solution for miners. We can scale our process circuit, dependent on the volume of concentrate a project produces. We can therefore partner with any operator seeking to process on site and capture more value from operations. We expect to complete engineering of a turn-key, scalable processing circuit in the first quarter of 2021 and sign our first mining partner in the middle of the year. The coming year will be a pivotal time for our mining division.
What are some drivers for revenue generation in 2021?
We expect 2021 will be a year of growth. We are expanding our upstream, E-Waste supply chain with a focus to fill our processing plant to capacity by Q3 2021. In the fourth quarter of this year, we established two international sources and have confirmed an initial shipment of feedstock. Our partners are well-established E-Waste recyclers and aggregators in their respective regions. We expect consistently increasing supply shipments from them in 2021. We have also been sourcing supply in North America. A diversified upstream supply chain will drive rapid processing expansion. The fourth quarter of 2020 has been a very progressive period and sets the stage for significant growth next year. The E-Waste market was definitely challenged in 2020, but we have definitely scrambled to react with resiliency and we are confident that 2021 will be a pivotal year.
E-waste management alone is projected to be worth $102 billion by 2027, where do you envision EnviroLeach within this picture in seven years’ time?
EnviroLeach has built a five-year business model during which time the Company will develop a diversified revenue stream including corporate PCBA processing facilities, PCBA licensing partnerships and mining licensing partnerships. Our main revenue driver is PCBA processing. There is no doubt that E-Waste supply will continue to grow and the increasing focus of federal governments and regulators to drive greater recycling compliance and domestic treatment for the sustainable treatment of PCBAs. PCBAs represent a tremendous value and yet only approximately 25% are properly recycled and processed, so there is a lot of room for growth. Our unique process allows us to capture the vast majority of metal value in PCBAs and reduce the CO2 equivalent emissions caused by smelting of the entire PCBAs.
COVID has provided new challenges for companies and ETI’s share price has come down from this time last year, what are some contributing factors for this?
Without a doubt COVID has challenged the entire e-waste recycling sector at large. The e-waste supply chain was completely disrupted. EnviroLeach found itself scrambling to complete on feedstock purchases from upstream relationships severely impacted by supply chain disruption. Those recyclers simply did not have available supply. In fact, we have heard estimates of processing volume decreases averaging 35-45%. Our expectations to commence commercial operations and generate revenues in Q2 were not realized. Ultimately, we are confident we offer value. We are gaining momentum with recently established supply relationships that will deliver revenues.
As a member of the Board of Directors of Group 11 Technologies and NGO Sustainability, what do you see in the future of environmental sustainability in your industry?
Environmental sustainability is a major investment theme and its global importance will increase over time. It applies equally to gold mining and E-Waste processing. These initiatives are driven from demand by project stakeholders, institutional investors, and metal consumers such as OEMs. We are witnessing irreversible momentum focused on sustainable management of our resources and long-term stewardship of our environment. The potential for in-situ, or in-place, gold mining may change the way the world mines gold. We are confident that EnviroLeach will play a key role in driving environmentally sustainable gold mining . NGO Sustainability, in consultive status the United Nations has been very supportive in leading the dialogue for sustainable resource development within the UN framework. Unsurprisingly, UN-related response for In Situ Recovery of gold has been very positive.
The premise of recycling E-Waste is based on economic sustainability. The industry is clamoring to source environmentally sustainable and economic solutions to capture the metal value contained in PCBAs. Additionally, some constituent metals in PCBAs, such tin, are considered “conflict minerals” by EU and US governments. OEMs are acutely aware of the need to responsibly source these metals in order to fulfill their sustainability mandates, which include circular economy principles. We are confident we are positioned for the future landscape in both mining and e-waste sectors. The future is sustainability.
EnviroLeach also began a license agreement with Group 11 to refine and apply in-situ gold mining technologies incorporating the Company’s water-based solution, can you speak to the importance of this partnership, both as an investment proposition and for the environment?
The formation of Group 11 is a collaboration with enCore Energy and Golden Predator, under the guidance of Mr. Bill Sheriff. It is a timely and important development. Group 11 marries EnviroLeach’s chemistry technology with leading developers and operators In Situ Recovery from the uranium industry. By adopting this process for gold recovery, Group 11 has the potential to unlock and responsibly monetize countless gold deposits worldwide. The joint venture will pioneer this application with initial projects in North America. Our water-based and benign chemistry is the ‘secret ingredient injected into a gold deposit without harmful environmental impacts to surrounding groundwater. It is the only viable formulation applicable to this process. The process is designed to recover gold by injecting our chemistry into the gold deposit where it dissolves the gold into solution and then pumps the “pregnant” solution to the surface for the extraction of gold, regeneration of the formula, and re-injection, all in a closed loop cycle. Because our water-based chemistry is infinitely reusable, it is the ideal formulation for implementation of “in place mining”.
It is very gratifying to be part of a solution that could change the way the world mines gold. This venture has captured the attention of leading mining and processing companies and the positive responses indicate that the implementation of this innovation will further weave sustainability into the gold mining sector.
The Company is backed by a first-class team of scientists and engineers who have collected data from tens of thousands individual tests and assays, independent validations, strategic partners and tens of thousands of hours in research and development … who are some key members of the Company you would like to highlight?
I am very proud of the diligence and dedication our team has exhibited to drive innovation and to commercialize our processes. Our executive team includes technical team members who joined me in this venture very early on: Ish Grewal, a senior metallurgist and our Executive VP, has pioneered scientific development of our processes. He has continued to outperform on the delivery of innovations. He leads a team of chemists that have completed an exhaustive data set of assays, analyses, and processes to build a robust IP portfolio. Hanif Jafari, our Chief Technology Officer, is a mining engineer who has worked very closely with me and led the implementation of our processing, from our initial pilot programs through to the commissioning of our e-waste facility in Metro Vancouver. Hanif has been invaluable in the completion of the mining pilot programs we completed in 2019 and 2020. He also is a key contributor to the international E-Waste relationships we are building. Our COO, Wayne Moorhouse, has worked tirelessly to prepare us for revenue, in the design and execution of our business strategy. Wayne and I worked closely to build out Silvermex Resources, a Mexican mining company which was sold in 2013. Our board of directors includes Mel Lavitt, a senior Wall Street veteran who was on the Board of Directors of Jabil for 25 years. We recently welcomed Alexander Ruckdäschel, who likewise has extensive investment advisory and governmental relations experience. Very notably, Alex is a founding director of ERI, the largest fully integrated E-Waste recycler and IT & Electronics Disposition (ITAD) provider in the world. I could go on…
Thank you again for taking the time to speak with us, anything more to add?
It’s important for readers to understand the value we offer. Over four years we have advanced from the discovery of an idea, through research and development and the commercialization of a valuable and sustainable solution for gold extraction – a solution the gold industry has been searching for 150 years. We have also applied that process to a new resource stream: E-Waste, and more specifically printed circuit boards. Recently, we announced a breakthrough process application to recovery copper and tin from printed circuit boards, which drives vastly increased value capture and improved operating margins. This positions EnviroLeach as a domestic smelter alternative processor in two sectors. We have accomplished these tremendous innovations in merely four years and with relatively low capital investment. We are now on the cusp of revenue at the close of a very challenging 2020. We have a proven, scalable and commercially viable technology platform that positions us for multiple revenue streams across two large market sectors which striving to adopt sustainable innovations. We are in the right place at the right time.