Rio Tinto Kennecott goes circular

Rio Tinto Kennecott in Salt Lake City, Utah, has joined Terelion’s Circularity Program, marking a significant milestone in delivering on the industry’s ambitious goal of a more sustainable future.

Through Terelion’s Circularity Program, it is now possible to recycle all cemented carbide inserts on a drill bit back to virgin material – pure tungsten – which can then be used in manufacturing new cemented carbide inserts. Tools from recycled solid carbide require 70% less energy, which results in 40% less CO2 emissions.

“At Terelion, we are committed to working towards a more sustainable mining future. Doing so will benefit all: our planet, our customers, and our business. Our aim is 90% circularity by 2030. Key in achieving this is our Circularity Program,” said Operations Director Graeme McKenzie.

“We are very happy that Rio Tinto Kennecott shares this ambition and has decided to join our program – a clear testament also to their commitment in this area. We look forward to a successful partnership that ultimately encourages others to join this exciting initiative.”

The used products are collected on site at the Kennecott copper mine and transported to a partner where the dull tungsten carbide drill bits are separated from the steel. The used carbide inserts are then sent to a process plant in Austria where they are transformed back to its original powder form, and then made into new tungsten carbide inserts that are used as the raw material for making new drill bits.  

The Terelion Circularity Program for tungsten carbide drill bits at the Rio Tinto Kennecott mine is estimated to reduce CO2 emissions related to carbide drill bits by 64%. The energy consumption will be reduced by 70% compared with sourcing tungsten carbide via conventional mining methods.

“We’re always looking for new and inventive ways to reduce our carbon footprint and cut waste,” said Rio Tinto Kennecott General Manager Minerals Brendan Murphy. “We are excited to support this innovative circularity program and look forward to seeing the difference it can make.”

Source: Rio Tinto

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