Supplying a Sustainable Future
Sherritt’s products have important roles to play in a sustainable future. Our products and technologies contribute to global decarbonisation and the circular economy. Minerals such as nickel and cobalt are used in low-carbon and carbon neutral technologies that are more metal intensive than fossil fuel technologies. Our Technologies Division continues to innovate to solve some of the current challenges of the mining industry in a sustainable fashion.
At Sherritt, innovation has been in our DNA for some time. Our Technologies Division is working hard to find solutions to a number of industry needs, such as how to:
- Improve the purity of metals;
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
- Extend the life of mines;
- Reduce tailings;
- Increase the recovery of high-value metals;
- Reduce operating costs; and
- Reduce capital investments for mining projects.
These are significant challenges that the mining industry has been grappling with for years, and the Technologies Division has already developed a number of innovative solutions. Some examples:
1. Treatment of High-Arsenic Copper
One of the most advanced projects that our Technologies Division is working on relates to improving metals extraction and, in particular, finding an effective way to treat arsenic that is commonly found in copper concentrates produced by mines around the world.
Arsenic is a poisonous element requiring costly treatment and handling. The current processing methods are not only expensive, rendering many copper mines uneconomic, but they also produce tailings and carbon emissions.
The solution developed by our Technologies Division delivers a number of benefits. Most notably, our process:
- Makes the arsenic inert or not reactive;
- Produces no carbon emissions;
- Extends the life of aging copper mines;
- Reduces the treatment charges that copper miners have to pay smelters; and
- Increases the value of copper concentrates.
With demand for copper slated to grow by almost 30% over the next 10 years as the electrification trend intensifies, the opportunity for Sherritt’s solution is significant.
2. Bitumen Upgrading
Another innovative solution developed by our Technologies Division relates to bitumen upgrading. The Technologies group has developed a new process to move from partial upgrading to full upgrading.
Bitumen is a heavy crude oil with limited uses. Its processing requires pre-treatment, the addition of diluent, and post-delivery processing. Our process represents a considerable breakthrough for the oil and gas industry, as it significantly improves the economics of bitumen delivery. Currently, the bitumen industry spends $13 billion on diluent, which acts as a cutting agent to make the bitumen flow more easily. The use of diluent results in a loss of up to one-third of pipeline capacity.
Benefits of Sherritt’s full upgrading process:
- Reduces carbon emissions and slag waste
- Uses more efficient and smaller reactors
- Increases pipeline capacity and eliminates diluent cost
- Increases value of oil in pipeline
In simple terms, it now means that oil producers can transport bitumen to downstream markets more economically and without any use of diluent. Just as important, our process reduces carbon emissions and reduces slag or coking waste.
Our next step is to launch a demonstration trial with a bitumen partner.
We are also investigating exciting green technologies such as green hydrogen. Stay tuned for more information.