Rio Tinto to Build Utah Plant to Recover Tellurium
By Robb M. Stewart
Rio Tinto PLC will build a new plant at its Kennecott copper
mine near Salt Lake City to recover tellurium, a mineral used in
The U.K.- and Australia-listed miner said it is investing $2.9
million to set up the plant, which will recover tellurium as a
byproduct of copper smelting, thereby extracting a valuable mineral
from waste streams. The plant will have a capacity to produce about
20 metric tons of tellurium a year, it said.
Rio Tinto said it expects to begin production of tellurium in
the fourth quarter, creating a new North American supply chain for
an essential component of cadmium telluride, a semiconductor used
to manufacture thin film photovoltaic solar panels. It also can be
used as an additive to steel and copper to make the metals easier
to cut and can be added to lead to increase resistance to sulfuric
acid, vibration and fatigue.
Kennecott's smelting process also recovers gold, silver, lead
carbonate, platinum, palladium and selenium. The company's
production from Kennecott was 140,000 tons last year, down 25% from
2019 due to lower grades in part of the operation and changes in
"The minerals and metals we produce are essential to accelerate
the transition to renewable energy," Rio Tinto Kennecott Managing
Director Gaby Poirier said. "Adding tellurium to our product
portfolio provides customers in North America with a secure and
reliable source of tellurium produced at the highest environmental
and labour standards with renewable energy."
Write to Robb M. Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 08, 2021 11:17 ET (16:17 GMT)
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