Stillwater Mining Company has been recycling spent catalyst materials at its metallurgical complex in Columbus, Montana, since 1997. The facilities process ceramic automotive catalysts, petroleum catalysts, industrial PGM catalysts and refinery sweeps in lot sizes ranging from one to 20 tons. The Company’s recycling business consists of a state-of-the-art processing and sampling facility and a contiguous automated assay laboratory.
Catalyst material received at Stillwater’s recycling facility in Columbus is recorded, documented and weighed. The PGM-bearing ceramic materials in each recycling lot are crushed and sampled at the Company’s catalyst sampling facility. Any dust created during this process is captured and included in the sample. Samples are sent to the Company’s automated recycle lab. State-of-the-art assay techniques are utilized to provide assays within seven to 10 days. The crushed catalyst material is pneumatically conveyed into Stillwater’s precious metals smelter. The material is blended and processed with concentrates from mining operations. Blending materials from two different sources provides processing efficiencies. The copper and nickel sulfides naturally present in the mine concentrates “collect” the PGMs and carry them through the smelter and into the base metals refinery.
Stillwater operates a state-of-the-art catalyst sampling facility where recycling lots are crushed and sampled prior to processing. The facility significantly increased Stillwater’s receiving and sampling capacity and provides the capability to receive product from multiple shippers simultaneously. The facility efficiently provides assay samples ready for analysis in the automated assay lab.
Automated Recycling Lab
The Company’s state-of-the-art assay lab utilizes an automated X-ray process that provides accurate results with faster processing times than conventional fire assay methods. The dedicated automated recycle laboratory, coupled with the sampling plant, provides exchange quality assays within seven to 10 days of receiving the material. This efficiency provides suppliers with the fastest exchange quality assays in the market, which reduces risks caused by lengthy traditional assay times.