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ASSESSMENT OF CRITICAL

By George Reed,2014-05-13 11:50
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ASSESSMENT OF CRITICAL

     ASSESSMENT OF CRITICAL

    THIN FILM RESOURCES

    RAF-9-29609

    TELLURIUM

Introduction

On April 4, 1999 NREL commissioned an assessment of the availability of tellurium

    resources in relation to the potential substantial increase of tellurium use in photo voltaic

    (PV) solar cells. The tasks to be accomplished in this study consist of the following:

    ? Provide general background information on tellurium.

    ? Identify current suppliers (distributors and producers) of tellurium.

    ? Describe production methods for tellurium.

    ? Determine production capacity and output potential

    ? Quantify solar cell industry tellurium demand

    ? Identify current and potential tellurium resources.

    ? Quantify ability of producers to scale up production for tellurium.

    ? Determine likelihood of new market entrants for tellurium should demand and or

    price increase.

    ? Analysis of tellurium market stability at various pricing scenarios (2,4,8 times

    increase over current price).

Background

Tellurium was discovered in 1782 in a complex group of gold telluride minerals in the

    ores of Transylvania (Romania) by Austrian chemist Joseph Franz Mueller von

    Reichenstein. The element was named after the Latin word “tellus” meaning earth. The

    discovery of the Seebeck effect (conversion of heat to electricity) in 1822 and the Peltier

    effect (conversion of electricity to heat) in 1834 opened the way for the utilization of

    tellurium in thermoelectric devices (Ageton, 1969).

Tellurium is one of the least abundant elements and tends mostly to form its own elements in

    metallic sulfide deposits. Widely distributed in nature, tellurium is a constituent in over 40

    minerals. The most significant associations are with sulfide minerals of copper, lead, zinc

    and iron. Other less common associations are with precious metals and platinum group

    metals. Tellurium is a nonmetallic element; its atomic number is 52 and atomic weight is

    127.6; and it exists in eight stable isotopes. The specific gravity of tellurium is 6.24 and

    melts at 452 C?. (Davidson, Lakin, 1973)

As of 1997 tellurium was used primarily as free machining additives to steel. Other uses

    included catalysts, chemical uses, nonferrous alloys, photoreceptors and thermoelectric

    devices.(Brown, 1997)

Production Methods

    The concentration of tellurium in copper, lead, massive sulfides (complexes primarily of copper/lead/zinc) gold and platinum group ores is overall very low. The estimated tellurium content shown in Table 1 is per refined ton of metal from these deposits or regions. It should be noted that the tellurium values in the table are averages and that individual deposits in the different regions may have substantially more or less tellurium than the average.

    Table 1

     Tellurium Concentration

    Deposit/Region Pounds Per Refined Ton Of Metal

U.S. Porphyry Copper Deposits 0.4

    Sudbury Canada Massive Sulfide Deposits 0.06

    World Wide Lead Ore Deposits 0.1

    Peru Porphyry Copper Deposits 0.2

    Chile Porphyry Copper Deposits 0.4

    Congo Copper Deposits 0.4

    Zambia Copper Deposits 0.4

    Russian/CIS Copper Nickel-Copper, Massive Sulfide

    Deposits 0.4

    Mexican Copper and Massive Sulfide Deposits 0.4

    Australia/New Guinea Copper Deposits 0.4

    Japan/Philippines/Chinese Copper and Massive Sulfide

    Deposits 0.4

    European Copper and Massive Sulfide Deposits 0.4

    The majority of tellurium produced comes from the precious-metals-rich anode slimes that accumulate during the electrolytic refining of copper.(Jensen, 1985) Lesser amounts of tellurium are also recovered from soda slag skimmings generated in lead refining (Brown, 1997) ; nickel/copper leach solutions generated in platinum group metals refining (Mining Journal, 1998); and flotation concentrates generated from gold milling (Suttill, 1991).

    There are several different methods for recovering tellurium from the various refining processes. Basic recovery methods are detailed in the descriptions to follow. Refinements and modifications of these methods by the operators have taken place and are considered proprietary.

    Electrolytic Copper Refining-Anode Slime Processing

Recovery Method 1- Slimes are roasted at high temperatures with sodium bisulfate. Sulfuric

    acid is used to oxidize copper minerals and to volatilize selenium from the slimes. Copper is then leached from the crushed slime residue with water and a subsequent leach with sodium hydroxide dissolves the tellurium. The insoluble slime residue is smelted in a dore? furnace to recover the precious metals.(Jensen, 1985)

Recovery Method 2 - An alternative method is to oxidize both selenium and tellurium in

    concentrated sulfuric acid to the soluble plus VI valence state. The tellurium is then

    precipitated by adjusting the pH to 7 with sodium hydroxide.(Jensen, 1985)

    Lead Refining-Soda Slag Processing

Tellurium and selenium obtained from furnace soda slag are leached with water and sent to

    neutralization tanks where tellurium is precipitated from the selenium solution.(Jensen,

    1985)

    Platinum Group Metals Refining - Nickel/Copper Leaching

Copper-nickel rich matte is leached in a series of pressure leach autoclaves and atmospheric

    leach tanks which leach the nickel, copper, other associated base metals, selenium and

    tellurium. A copper cement rich in selenium and tellurium is produced from this process.

    (Mining Journal, 1998)

    Gold Milling-Gold/Telluride Processing

Tellurides are refractory to cyanidation and must be removed and treated separately. Ore is

    crushed and the telluride is floated to produce a concentrate. The concentrate is leached with

    a 5% solution of calcium oxychloride and a 5% solution of sodium hydroxide to dissolve

    and precipitate the tellurium as calcium tellurate. (Suttill, 1991)

For all of the processing methods described, approximately 0.17 pounds (43%) to 0.14

    pounds (35%) of the 0.4 pounds (average content) of contained tellurium is recovered

    (Davidson, Lakin, 1973). The main focus of all of the processing methods is to maximize the

    recoveries of precious metals. If sufficient price and demand incentives were in place for

    tellurium, recovery percentages could increase.

The final product derived from all of the processing methods is a tellurium oxide of variable

    purity. Generally, this tellurium sludge or precipitate is sent to specialized refining facilities

    for final processing into high purity tellurium products. Tellurium and tellurium dioxide

    sludges or precipitates are purified to commercial grades by repeated dissolution and

    selective precipitation or by thermal reduction or electrolysis. Commercial grade tellurium is

    99.7% tellurium, 0.003% lead, 0.02% selenium, 0.004% silica and 0.015% copper. The

    high purity tellurium is prepared by distillation and sublimation procedures under vacuum

    and further purified by a series of zone melting and refining steps. High purity tellurium is

    99.9% to 99.9999% pure and is sold as ingots, sticks, granules, powder or lumps. (Jensen,

    1985), (Ageton, 1969).

Current Suppliers (Producers, Distributors)

Throughout the world there are numerous processing facilities who produce tellurium

    products in three categories:

    ? Tellurium Dioxides - Sludges and precipitates of variable purity

    around 35%.

    ? Commercial Grade Tellurium - 99.7% purity

    ? High Purity Tellurium - 99.9% to 99.9999%+

The organizations who produce tellurium products of variable quality; commercial grade;

    and high purity are profiled in the following list. Research has indicated that, because of

    current low demand, several of the facilities listed no longer recover tellurium. If improving

    market conditions would warrant, these facilities could again recover tellurium with a

    minimum amount of effort.

    Company : Phelps Dodge

Facility Location : El Paso, Texas

    Phone : 800-223-8567

    Type Operation : Refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Variable grade tellurium dioxide

Tellurium Source : Trace amounts of Te contained in porphyry copper

     deposits

    Company : Asarco

Facility Locations : Amarillo, Texas

     Denver, Colorado

    Phone : 806-383-2201 Amarillo

     303-296-5900 Denver

    Type Operations : Refinery - Amarillo

     High Purity Metals Processing-Globe Plant - Denver

Tellurium Product Output : Amarillo - Commercial grade tellurium

     Tellurium dioxide

     Denver - High purity Tellurium

Tellurium Source : Trace amounts of Te contained in porphyry copper

     deposits and potentially other types of deposits.

    Company : Dowa

Facility Locations : Japan

    Phone : 03-3201-1062

    Type Operation : Refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium Dioxide

     Commercial grade tellurium?

    Tellurium Source : Copper and massive sulfide ores and concentrates from

     Australia and other parts of the world including some

     Japanese production.

Company : Pacific Rare Metals Industries Inc. (Subsidiary of

     Lewer Corporation)

Facility Location : Manila, Philippines

    Phone : 612-9363-9741 (Sydney Australia Office)

    Tellurium Product Output : Commercial Grade Tellurium

     High Purity Tellurium

    Tellurium Source : Copper and massive sulfide slimes and sludges from

     refineries around the world.

Company : Noranda Metallurgy Inc. (Subsidiary of Noranda Inc.)

    Facility Locations : Montreal, Quebec, Canada - CCR Refinery

     Saint Laurent, Quebec

    Phone : 416-982-7423 (Toronto Office)

    Type Operations : Refinery - Montreal

     High Purity Metals Processing Plant - Saint Laurent

Tellurium Product Output : CCR Refinery - Tellurium dioxide

     Saint Laurent - High Purity Tellurium

    Tellurium Source : Base metal and massive sulfide deposits controlled by

     Noranda and possibly other sources

Company : Inco

Facility Location : Copper Cliff, Ontario, Canada

    Phone : 705-682-4211

    Type Operation : Smelter and Refinery

    Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium dioxide - variable purity

Tellurium Source : Copper-nickel deposits controlled by Inco

    Company : Alamalyk Mining and Metallurgical Combine

     (AMMC is a Government run company)

Facility Location : Uzbekistan - Various locations

    Phone : 988-261-43-03-03

    Type operation : Smelter and refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium Oxide - variable purity

Tellurium Source : Copper-gold- molybdenum mine in Uzbekistan

    Company : Kazakh Polymetals

Facility Location : Kazakhstan

    Phone : 49-10-00 (Additionally requires intln. access #’s)

    Type Operation : Smelter, refinery, metal processing

Tellurium Product Output : Commercial grade tellurium

Tellurium Source : Various complex sulfide deposits in Kazakhstan

    Company : Balkhash Integrated Mining and Metallurgical Works

Facility Location : Kazakhstan

    Phone : 2-20-35 (Additionally requires intln. access #’s)

    Type Operation : Smelter, refinery, metal processing

Tellurium Product Output : Commercial grade tellurium

Tellurium Source : Copper-molybdenum, copper-nickel and massive sulfide

     deposits in Kazakhstan

    Company : Chimkent Lead Works

Facility Location : Kazakhstan

    Phone : 12-39-35 (Additionally requires intln. access #’s)

    Type Operation : Smelter, refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium oxide concentrates

Tellurium Source : Lead zinc deposits in Kazakhstan

Company : Norilsk Mining and Metallurgical Combine

Facility Location : Russia-Krasnoyarsk Region

    Phone : No listed number

    Type Operation : Smelter, Refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium oxide

     Commercial grade tellurium?

    Tellurium Source : Nickel-copper, gold, platinum deposits in the Norilsk

     District.

Company : Krastsvtmet Plant

Facility Location : Russia

    Phone : No listed number

    Type Operation : Smelter, Refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium Oxide

     Commercial grade Tellurium?

    Tellurium Source : Copper and base metal mineral deposits in Russia.

Company : Uralelectromed Combine

Facility Location : Russia - Urals

    Phone : No listed number

    Type Operation : Smelter, Refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium Oxide

     Commercial grade tellurium

    Telllurium Source : Copper and base metal deposits in Russia

Company : Kyshtym Electrolytic Copper Plant

Facility Location : Russia

    Phone : No listed number

    Type Operation : Smelter, Refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium Oxide

Tellurium Source : Copper deposits in Russia

    Company : Centromin (Government Company)

Facility Location : Central Peru

    Phone :511-476-9264

    Type Operation : Smelter, Refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium Dioxide

     Commercial Grade Tellurium

Tellurium Source : Copper; lead-zinc deposits in Peru

    Company : Southern Peru Copper Corp (Subsidary of a JV in

     which Asarco is a majority owner

Facility Location : West central Peru - Ilo

    Phone :212-510-2147 (Asarco Home Office)

    Type Operation : Refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium Dioxide

Tellurium Source : Asarco controlled copper mines in Peru plus possibly some

     other non company controlled sources

    Company : Metallurgie Hoboken Overpelt (Sogem?)

     (Believed to have commercial tie in to Union Miniere)

    Facility Location : Belgium

    Phone : 32-2-227-77-77 (Sogem)

    Type Operation : Refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium Dioxide

Tellurium Source : European lead-zinc deposits and others world wide

    Company : Nippon Mining Co. Ltd.

Facility Location : Japan

    Phone : 8-135573-7332

Type Operation : Smelter, Refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium Dioxide

Tellurium Source : Copper and base metal concentrates from around the world

Company : Mitsubishi Metal Corp.

Facility Location : Japan

    Phone : 3-5800-9373

    Type Operation : Smelter, Refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium Dioxide

Tellurium Source : Copper and base metal concentrates from around the world

Company : Mitsui Mining and Smelting

Facility Location : Japan

    Phone : 8-133778-6029

    Type Operation : Smelter, Refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium Dioxide

Tellurium Source : Copper and base metal concentrates from around the world

Company : Sumitomo Metal Mining

Facility Location : Japan

    Phone : 8-133436-7801

    Type Operation : Smelter, Refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium Dioxide

Tellurium Source : Copper and base metal concentrates from around the world

Company : China Nonferrous Metal Industry Corp.

     (Government Controlled)

Facility Locations : Throughout China

    Phone : No listed number

Type Operations : Smelters, Refineries

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium Dioxide

     Commercial grade tellurium

    Tellurium Source : Copper; lead-zinc deposits throughout china

    Comment : The Chinese mineral and processing industry is in a

     state of flux with some operations being privatized

     and new non government controlled mines and smelters

     being developed. The sources for the tellurium coming

     from China today are overall not well documented.

Company : Outokumpu Harjavalta Metals Oy

Facility Location : Finland

    Phone : 358-2-626-5240

Type Operation : Refinery

Tellurium Product Output : Tellurium Dioxide

Tellurium Source : Smelter products from copper and massive sulfide deposits

     located throughout the world

Company : Atomergic Chemetals Corp.

Facility Locations : Farmingdale, New York

     Moscow, Russia

    Phone : 516-694-9000

    Type Operation : High Purity Metals Processing

Tellurium Product Output : High Purity Tellurium

    Tellurium Source : Purchased from a variety of sources

Company : All-Chemie Ltd.

    Facility Location : Mount Pleasant, South Carolina Phone : 843-884-4400

    Type Operation : High Purity Metals Procesing

Tellurium Product Output : High Purity Tellurium

    Tellurium Source : Purchased from China and other sources

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