by Kathrine Moore
Dross is waste made up of impurities that separate from metal during the smelting process. It typically forms into a scum on the surface of molten metal that when removed and cooled, is metallic in nature. According to PyroGenesis Canada Inc. [PYR-TSXV], 2-10% of a smelters’ annual production capacity can be lost in the form of dross.
PyroGenesis is a high-tech company with headquarters in Montreal, Canada, that designs, develops, manufactures and commercializes advanced plasma processes and products including the DROSRITE™ furnace system that recovers metal from the dross.
The DROSRITE™ System is employed at the smelter as dross is generated. The metallic dross is placed into an argon-filled rotary tilting furnace that quenches any oxidation reaction. The company explains that, “The furnace is rotated to separate out the metal phase from the non-metallic. The (recovered) molten metal is removed and then returned to the holding furnace, while a controlled amount of oxygen is introduced to the furnace to heat up the non-recoverable metal remaining in the residue. Some of the residues are then discharged, but the remaining residue, along with the heat buildup from the oxidation, ensures that the furnace is ready to receive the next batch.”
The System has been designed to process and recover valuable metal such as aluminum, and zinc from dross. Originally PyroGenesis focused on the DROSRITE™ System’s application in the aluminum industry. On December 3, 2018, the company announced the successful completion of previously announced, paid for demonstrations, in India, that confirm the DROSRITE™ System’s commercial application to zinc dross. To date, the process has been successfully demonstrated in over 100 industrial aluminum dross trials.
“These zinc dross results, together with our recent success in the aluminum dross market, confirm that our proprietary DROSRITE™ System is a game changer,” said P. Peter Pascali, President and CEO of PyroGenesis. “Not only have we proven the commercial application of PyroGenesis’ DROSRITE™ System to aluminum dross, but we have, today, demonstrated the same for zinc dross, which significantly increases the value of the company’s DROSRITE™ System.”
PyroGenesis says that with the successful completion of this zinc demonstration the company can now target zinc smelters the world over, noting that the price of zinc is approximately 33% higher than that of aluminum.
On September 18, 2018, PyroGenesis announced that it had received a multi-million dollar order for two DROSRITE™ furnace systems from an unnamed Asian client expected to be delivered in April 2019. Those systems are the third and fourth commercial systems sold to date.
But PyroGenesis isn’t relying on the sale of DROSRITE™ Systems alone for its success. The company stated, “At the request of several smelters, PyroGenesis started to consider tolling arrangements. A tolling service agreement is one in which a smelter provides dross to a third party to be processed either on or off-site. In our case, PyroGenesis would provide a tolling service using its proprietary DROSRITE™ System to process the dross and recover valuable metals for a fee. The benefits would be shared with the smelter. On November 6, 2018, PyroGenesis announced the signing of an MOU with a multi-billion dollar Japanese trading house with a view to jointly toll with DROSRITE™ globally. PyroGenesis is currently in various stages of negotiating tolling service agreements with four different smelters for a total of eleven 5,000 tpd DROSRITE™ furnace systems dedicated to tolling. Each 5,000 tpd DROSRITE™ furnace system has the potential to generate approx. $3.7 million of annual recurring benefits.”
Tolling has become the most important element in PyroGenesis’ overall strategy as it provides for higher recurring revenues over a longer period of time.