Comstock Mining and one of its subsidiaries have entered into a definitive agreement with Mercury Clean Up (MCU), in collaboration with Oro Industries, for the manufacture and global deployment of mercury remediation systems with “proprietary mechanical, hydro, electro-chemical and oxidation processes to reclaim, treat and remediate mercury from tailings and industrial effluents derived from mining and other industrial applications”.
Oro owns all of the intellectual property and MCU has the exclusive worldwide rights to the proprietary mercury treatment system: the Mercury Remediation System. MCU, in partnership with Comstock, will deploy that solution globally, Comstock said.
Comstock provided some detail on why it was signing such as deal.
“Worldwide unregulated activity has released thousands of tonnes of mercury into the environment,” the company said. “The continued worldwide use of mercury in unregulated activities, primarily outside of the US, is polluting air, soils, and waters and poisoning marine life and endangering lives. Ongoing, unregulated artisanal mining outside of the US represents more than 40% of the ongoing mercury contamination and represents an enormous opportunity for cleaning up the environment in a sustainable, profitable manner.”
The almost 140-nation, globally-sponsored, 2017 Minamata Convention on Mercury represents a relatively new international treaty designed to prioritise, support and protect human health and the environment from releases of mercury, according to Comstock. “This treaty is uniting governments, scientists, non-government organisations and now MCU, in eliminating the use of mercury in mining. Mercury will not go away by itself and must be removed to stop the pollution. Mercury can’t be broken down or destroyed, and MCU, in collaboration with Oro and Comstock, is pioneering the solution for removing the mercury efficiently and effectively.”
Over the past seven years, Comstock has implemented several approved plans, by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP), intended to address NDEP’s and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protocols, guidance and goals for sampling, characterising, transporting and managing mercury within the Carson River Mercury Superfund Site. “These plans, and Comstock’s existing permitted infrastructure, provide an ideal platform for evaluating and fine-tuning the MCU process. MCU will work closely with NDEP for any additional approvals, engineering design changes (EDC) or permits,” Comstock said.
From 2013 to 2016, Oro conducted a series of scientific, international studies that tested over 50 samples of mine tailings from widespread uses of mercury in numerous artisanal mining sites. The study developed a safe and economical Mmrcury recovery process that remediates historic contamination and prevent new contaminations, according to Comstock. “The study showed that gold recoveries could self-sustain the remediation.”
Comstock will invest $2 million in MCU, with the right of first refusal on both business and capital investments. Comstock will own up to 25% of MCU and separately, 50% of a new 50-50 venture called Comstock Mercury Remediation LLC, effectively resulting in a 62.5% profit interest for Comstock.
Corrado De Gasperis, Comstock Executive Chairman and CEO, said: “The goal of eliminating mercury contamination from the environment and current, ongoing mining processes profitably is a staggering opportunity for our planet, our partners and our company and represents a significant step forward in our strategy for delivering conservation-based, economically enhancing mining technologies and processes, and our partners are already receiving and analysing domestic and international enquiries.”
MCU will demonstrate the feasibility of the Mercury Remediation System within the historic, world-class, Comstock Lode mining district as part of the next steps. Comstock will provide the platform for testing the Mercury Remediation System and MCU will conduct the initial trials starting with a 2 ton per hour (1.81 t/h) pilot operation that could scale up to 25 ton per hour (22.68 t/h) and deliver the final feasibilities, the company said. Comstock and MCU would enable the 50-50 Comstock Mercury Remediation venture for pursuing these global business opportunities.
Oro will commence manufacturing for the deployment of the 2-25 ton per hour mercury recovery plant coupled with a 200 gallon-per-minute (12.62 l/s) dissolved air flotation water recycling treatment plant and field laboratory. The entire system will be mounted on three separate trailers for mobility. Initial equipment setup will rest on the company’s fully contained, double-lined processing facility, Comstock said.
This will see:
- Samples from the within the Comstock and identified Carson River mercury sites, will be analysed, extracted and transported per the SAP to the MCU processing facility located at Comstock’s American Flat processing facility, in Storey County, Nevada;
- Comstock and MCU work closely with the NDEP on all protocols, including test areas, documentation standards and routine, periodic reporting, and;
- Full technical and economic feasibility processes will continue for 12 to 18 months.
Paul Clift, founder of Oro and Co-founder of MCU, said: “Both parties have a proven track record of environmental excellence and innovation and we welcome this partnership for solving a critical, global contamination problem. We have been bombarded with requests for a mercury solution and Oro has been committed to chemical free, safe solutions for global miners. Together, through MCU, we will deliver the only safe, efficient and economically feasible solution for what is truly a global dilemma.”