Recouperation of Indium benefits us all by recycling this valuable, rare element into reuseable raw material.
That sentence is easy to explain but not necessarily easy to achieve. We all have a lot of modern equipment in and around our homes and places of work that has rare earths and other expensive metals and elements in them, things like long-life light bulbs, TFT computer and TV screens, portable phones, solar cells and various electronic components in your kitchen and living room and even your car. Today, when the lamp or the tv or the computer screen breaks, it is almost always less expensive to dispose of the old equipment and buy a new replacement (that probably is also more advanced and more efficient) than it is to repair the old items. Here in Switzerland, you even pay a tax for the recovery process when you buy such goods new. If you return the goods to your dealer, or if you are good about separating your recyclable waste, the interesting materials will get sent to a recycling centre where many of the more interesting (higher value) parts will be separated out and some of the more valuable materials, like gold, silver, and copper will be recovered. However, many of the more unknown elements generally will go into the burners with the normal trash. The problem with that is that there are still a lot of valuable elements that are not recovered in what is left, and many of them are worth almost as much as gold or silver. Generally speaking, the prices of these elements are going up and will continue to do so, because there is a limited amount of them available as a raw material, and today, most of them are only produced in China, and recovery for recycling is generally unknown.
Indium is a very popular but at the same time a quite rare element that is needed for the manufacture of flat tv and other screens in the form of Indium tin oxide (“ITO”) and also for the production of solar cells. Since the last Indium mine in Japan, the Tohoya mine, closed due to exhausted resources, Canada is the only free-world world-scale Indium producer (China is a major producer of Indium, both as an original product, and as a producer of recycled Indium – in total about 50% of the world’s production. China however is essentially ignored as a producer of Indium in the rest of the world because it consumes not only all it produces but also is a continuous consumer of Indium from outside sources.) There is no substitute element in sight for manufacturing flat display panels at present, and it is expected that the price of Indium will soon skyrocket out of control. Because of this, Indium is considered the scarcest of all the earth’s rare element commodities. It is calculated that, at the current demand and the supply rate for this element, the available supply will be exhausted in only about 17 years (about 2033).
That is where InRec Inc comes in. Our goal is to recover as much of the valuable and scarce rare element Indium as is feasible for the benefit to our economy. The majority of the recovery process at the moment involves recovery from waste flat tv screens (see the X-ray emission microscope images below).
This process is not inexpensive to put together, but the Indium we recover (at a 90% and better recovery rate) will make it worth while. In addition, our end product will be high purity Indium (99.995% minimum purity). InRec will not only produce Indium using our Swiss recovered materials as the feed source, we will also have the potential to expand operations by importing additional Indium-containing wastes, and to market our technology to other potential Indium recovery organistions (outside Switzerland).
As you can see, the recouperation of rare elements makes sense and everyone benefits, even the Chinese. InRec proposes to do this using a new, economically attactive method, and to make our technology available to other recovery organisations as well.