- Canadian company Mineworx says its HM X-leach formula can extract metals such as gold, palladium, platinum and silver from circuit boards more safely than existing methods which use cyanide, as reported by Resource Recycling.
- In a recent test on e-waste samples, the formula recovered 2,600 parts per million of gold in under an hour. This is compared to cyanide's 97% recovery rate over roughly four hours.
- The formula could also be used to extract metals from ores, concentrates and tailings. While it is more expensive than cyanide, the HM X-leach formula is recyclable for multiple uses.
According to Duane Nelson, president and CEO of Mineworx, one researcher worked on the formula for decades before his company bought the technology. Iberian Minerals — which owns Mineworx — has filed a patent for the technology. A second subsidiary, HMX Solutions, will be looking for ways to commercialize the technology.
While cyanide is cheaper, it has a longer production cycle and slower leaching rate according to research funded by the Chinese government. The process also creates toxic wastewater, whereas Nelson claims "you could essentially drink" the HM X-leach formula.
Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada found another alternative to leaching or burning off gold. Using a solution of acetic acid and an oxidant they were able to dissolve the material from circuit boards quickly and cheaply. Both of these techniques have promising potential for recovering more value from material in a growing global e-waste market that is projected to surpass $34 billion by 2022.