The metal and oil extraction process result in the production and exponential accumulation of the wastewater/tailings which contain toxic compounds, heavy metals, and a source of dispersed methane emission. The tailings are deemed an environmental, economic, and engineering concern that has plagued mining industries for several decades. EnviCore has developed sustainable tailings treatment solutions offering 65% cost savings, 60% additional water recovery available for recycling, and 40% GHG emission reduction.
The working prototypes of the nickel mining and oil sands tailings treatment technologies are ready (TRL 4), demonstrating all necessary processing steps and resulting sediment compaction to 65-70 wt% solids and clear water release ready to be recycled within a couple of weeks of treatment. We are planning to secure pilot testing of 1000 tonnes/day of tailings treatment by mid-Q4 of 2020 and small-scale retrofit by Q1 of 2022 where we will treat the tailings in the range of 5000-10000 tonnes/day. We have signed an Interim Service agreement with Sherritt International Corporation to jointly develop the technologies. We are also in discussion with four other mining companies to co-develop the tailings treatment technologies.
There are close to 2 thousand active tailings ponds around the world that are storing various types of tailings. We have developed technologies for the oil sands and nickel tailings sector which is valued at 12 billion dollars. Our target clients include Canadian Natural Resource Limited, Suncor Energy, Imperial Oil, Syncrude, Teck Mining, and Sherritt International Corporation.
We are also developing strategic relationships with Sumitomo Corporation of America, Mitsubishi Materials, Nexa Resources, BHP Group, First Majestic Silver, and Duration Gold targeting the Copper, Gold, Silver, and Zinc tailings sector.
Problem or Opportunity
The bitumen and metal extraction process result in the production and exponential accumulation of the wastewater/tailings which contain toxic compounds, heavy metals, and a source of dispersed methane emission. The tailings are deemed an environmental, economic, and engineering concern that has plagued mining industries for several decades. The global problem of tailings ponds is a trillion-dollar liability as they hold enough of polluted water to fill over 18 million Olympic-sized swimming pools and occupy a disturbed area of 1000s of sq km. In addition to land and water footprint, the other environmental impacts include CO2 emission equivalent to the annual emission of 2 million cars and exposure of wildlife to toxic and acidic sludge.
Solution (product or service)
To provide sustainable and robust solutions, EnviCore’s tailings treatment technologies are designed to utilize low-cost non-toxic chemicals and provide water and air footprint reduction by 60 and 40%, respectively, while being easy to retrofit. By focusing on quick recyclable water release and strong sediment formation, the technologies offer land reclamation in 5 years as opposed to 30 years with the currently implemented process. The technologies also offer an economic route for the extraction of nanosized minerals with large value as additives in industrial applications.
In the tailings treatment sector, we have identified three other major treatment technology competitors. one of them, the polymer flocculation technology supplied by SNF, BASF, and Kemira Inc., is currently being widely implemented for the tailings treatment. The other two, using ionic liquids as treatment chemicals by CalAgua Innovation Corp. and electro-coagulation by ElectroKinetic Systems, are both at a similar R&D stage to ours. The main point of differentiation between EnviCore’s technology and the competition is the cost of treatment, where measured in $CAD per tonne of dry treated tailings we are providing up to 60% cost reduction in comparison to the status quo. In terms of the main performance indicators, EnviCore’s technologies provide 60% more water release and more than an order of magnitude stronger sediments suitable for reclamation within five years as opposed to 30 years. Finally, in terms of the process versatility and scalability, we surpass our competition as well.
Advantages or differentiators
Maximizing the sediment compaction and strength is at the core of the mining waste mitigation where the ultimate goal is returning the disturbed land into its premining equivalent state. To the best of our knowledge and through contacts with our potential clients, there is currently no cost-effective treatment technology that can produce sediments with 70-80wt% compaction and high strength in a short period of ~7 days following treatment. This effectively satisfies the 5-year compaction goal (80% solids in the sediment) necessary for reclamation set by the regulatory bodies which no other technology is able to achieve in a similar timeframe. The effective performance at a lower cost and under optimized conditions suitable for easy retrofit is the most important dimension where EnviCore’s technologies outperform all other existing practices in tailings treatment.
EnviCore’s forecasted revenue from one oil sands company and one hard rock mining operator in the first quarter of 2022 will be in the range of $3.42 million dollars on an annual basis. Specific to one oil sands tailings pond situated at Horizon mine site in northern Alberta, Canada, around 72 million tonnes of tailings are produced each year. The operational expenses of the current technology to treat the tailings is close to $42 million dollars on an annual basis. With Envicore’s technology, we will solve the problem in $18 million dollars leading to a savings of $24 million dollars on an annual basis. Our revenue stream will be $2.4 million dollars on an annual basis or 10% of the savings per tailings pond.
EnviCore plans to implement a licensing business model that will allow us to monetize our novel tailings treatment technologies in both the oil sand and hard rock mining sectors by licensing them to potential end-users. We envision revenue by royalty payments under the licensing model with a fixed upfront amount in addition to the fixed amount per unit of tailings treated. We can also provide exclusivity under the licensing model based on geographical location (e.g. only in Canada) and time-bound (e.g. for a definite number of years fr om the date of licensing agreement or lifetime), or offer a non-exclusive license wh ere the technology use will be granted to all similar or complimentary licensees.
Money will be spent on
Major milestones that we will cover with the investment will be to advance the technology development timeline, leverage government grants and funds to fund our pilot tests, establish a global marketing strategy, secure IP by filing patents and trademarks, and hiring highly qualified personnel.
Offer for investor
We are raising investment through SAFE and offering a discount of 20%.
We have identified numerous risks that might hinder our ability to do business. For example, competition from major flocculant producers such as BASF, SNF, and Kemira, etc. We are planning to mitigate it by tracking developments in related areas and will look for opportunities to work collaboratively and turn around competitors into collaborators. BASF has already expressed interest in our technologies. This would also provide potential opportunities for the commercialization of our technologies via the large manufacturing companies as they have means and infrastructure already established. Another risk that we have envisioned is inadequate funding may delay technology development. We are planning to mitigate this risk, we will proactively engage with potential funders (NRC IRAP, NSERC, Alberta Innovates, equity-based investment), present our technology and business, and submit timely funding applications.
Incubation/Acceleration programs accomplishment
1. We have completed the 6 months accelerator program by Creative Destruction Lab-Rockies. 2. We have completed the Foresight and Platform Calgary accelerator program- Launch and Deliver. 3. We were among the top five startups that were selected out of 250+ global startups that pitched at Startup Avalanche powered by Techsylvania 2020.
Won the competition and other awards
EnviCore is a recipient of the GreenSTEM funding award by the Government of Alberta, Canada. The program offered funding of C$300,000 for technology development and commercialization. We were among 9 startups that were selected out of 70+ applicants.
We have one granted patent by the US Patent office and one patent pending in Canada. We are also filing 3 additional provisional patents (two PCT and one US & Canada) in the Q4 of 2020.