Precious metal recovery is most commonly used in mining to recover gold and other precious metals. It relies on high-temperature incineration or any of a variety of scrubbers to dispose of unwanted materials and leave precious metal particulates that can be collected as a resource. The value of the precious metal deposits means that precious metal recovery is essential to the mining process, but incineration at high temperatures and the burning of materials leads to a number of environmental concerns and considerations. Scrubbers can provide a safer and more environmentally sensitive solution.
The loss of precious metal during the extraction, refining, and processing, can be expensive to the mining company. Precious metals including gold and silver have considerable value, and even minimal losses can lead to considerable financial loss during the process. As such, it is important that particulates are collected where possible.
However, the mining process is one that is high in air pollution. The generation of solid waste, the refining and processing stages of extraction are especially prone to creating air pollution, and the incineration of waste requires the introduction of pollution control systems. Mining companies need to incorporate the recovery of precious metals into their pollution control process.
The primary consideration, from a business point of view, is to ensure maximum particulate retrieval. The loss of any precious material can be expensive, and the revenue generated from the retrieved particulates can greatly outweigh the cost of implementing retrieval systems.
Scrubbers can be used to clean polluted gas. The gas is passed through water or sprayed with water so that the particulates, in this case precious metals, are left to be collected. When compared to fabric filters and electrostatic precipitators, scrubbers can operate at high temperatures, can remove gas and particulates, and can be used to neutralize corrosive gases.
Pollution is an important consideration in mining. There are a number of regulations, rules, and laws that must be adhered to by mining and processing companies, and ensuring a clean and safe local environment also helps ensure the safety and working conditions of those within the processing plant. A mining or extraction company may find it difficult to renew licences or to continue to operate in a local area if they have had an adverse effect on the local environment.
A number of scrubbing, incineration, and other precious metal recovery systems and pollution control systems do exist, and by choosing the one that is most appropriate to the processes and materials involved, it is possible to maximise precious metal retention while minimising pollution.