Turning Geology into Biology

Extracting nutrient value from tailings by processing into a biomineral fertilizer

Americas Tailings is working in collaboration with strategic partners to advance an innovative technology to extract nutrient value from tailings and repurpose it into an organic fertilizer. The technology combines tailings rock feedstock with biomass material to produce a bio-mineral soil fertilizer where elements typically considered deleterious or contaminants (N, P, K, Ca,Mg, Mn, Cu, Zn) are key ingredients to produce nutrient-rich fertilizers. 

Laboratory and pilot work on material from porphyry copper and lead-zinc tailings sites have been successful to produce products with agronomic value based on nutritional elemental content. Americas Tailings is continuing to advance its understanding of the fertilizer composition, the efficacy of the fertilizer on plant growth, and the process flowsheet and equipment requirements. Planned development work includes design of a mobile pilot plant program with capabilities to produce small-scale fertilizer production as a prototype for an industrial scale operation.

Development work is being advanced with proprietary and licensed technology, designs, and processes. The modular nature of the design will enable build-out of the technology to an optimal commercial scale to match feedstocks and fertilizer markets for specific projects.

Mechanism of Nutrient Mobilization

Biointervention of Silicate Minerals

Strong Macro- and Micro- Nutrient Demand

  • Biomass supplies C, N, P, K
  • Mine waste supplies micronutrients for plant growth
  • Micronutrients can support human health through biofortification

Current Fertilizer Dynamics

  • Global fertilizer price record high due to LNG prices
  • Global supply chain impacts associated with COVID
  • Fertilizer production concentrated in Europe and North America

Strong Market Demand

  • Key demand drivers of population and diet
  • Global fertilizer market CAGR, 2.4% 2021 to 2027, expected value >$210BN
  • Microbial biofertilizer market ≈$700M p.a., CAGR 12.5% through 2024

Contribution to Circular and Broader Economy

  • Diverting wastes to provide feedstock
  • Support local agricultural communities and supporting industries
  • Develop additional high end agricultural products

ESG/SDG – Circular and Local Economy

Local Employment and Business Opportunities, Post-Mining Economy and Community Sustainability