METI to Develop Rare Metal Recycling Technology

Mineral and Natural Resources Division of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry starts the development of hydrometallurgy technology to improve recycling rate of rare metals such as indium, tungsten and rare earths contained in electronic parts for scrapped digital camera or video recorder. The Division plans total 980 million yen of capital expenditure for the development as a part of energy saving technology developing project during 4 years to March 2011.Scraps of electric appliances and carbide tools are disposed by existent nonferrous metals smelting process at present. Scraps are treated in melting furnaces at 1,300-2,000 degrees Celsius. The process can recycle only a few metals such as copper and gold despite of much energy consumption. Rare metals cannot be recycled by the process and are thrown away.Ministry will lead research and development of hydrometallurgy technology through Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation in collaboration with Japanese private sectors and universities including Dowa Mining, Mitsubishi Materials, Mitsui Mining & Smelting and Japan New Metals, Tokyo University, Tohoku University and National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.Mineral and Natural Resources Division expects hydrometallurgy technology contributes to energy saving at about 780,000 kilo little of crude oil and to higher recycling rate of rare metals. The Division estimates the recycling rate could improve from 0% to 90% for indium, from 50% to 95% for nickel, from 0% to 95% for cobalt, from 90% to 95% for tantalum and from 0% to 80% for rare earths.