Elixore, an improved HSE solution to miners worldwide: Low total cost of ownership and low carbon emissions

TotalEnergies puts sustainable development in all its dimensions at the heart of its projects.

Elixore by TotalEnergies Fluids, a range of aliphatic diluents, propels solvent extraction as an improved HSE alternative and for a possible sustainable future of affordable green solutions.

Designed as aliphatic diluents dedicated to the solvent extraction (SX) process, the Elixore range offers a choice of perfectly inert, colourless and odourless solutions.

TotalEnergies Fluids global market manager Zubin Arora says Elixore typically has less than 0.03 per cent of aromatics compared with classical diluents which contain up to 20 per cent of aromatics. 

“Each product gives access to specification sets to reach the optimal balance between the desired level of extraction efficiency (viscosity) and the necessary level of operator safety (flash point),” Arora tells Australian Mining. 

Some of the Elixore product offerings are also part of TotalEnergies Fluids’ EcoLife portfolio. The EcoLife products use the principle of mass balance under the certification of ISCC+ by using a bio feedstock such as used cooking oil (UCO), sunflower oil or rapeseed oil to produce products with zero-carbon footprint (cradle to gate). Hence, Elixore potentially could help the customers to reduce their Scope 3 carbon emissions.

Primarily used for the extraction of copper, nickel, cobalt, uranium, zinc, palladium group metals (PGM) and rare-earth metals, Arora says the latest application of Elixore could be used in the primary and secondary extraction of lithium. This application extends to batteries recycling. For example, the extraction of all components of a lithium-ion battery, thus contributing to circular economy.

When outlining the main benefits of Elixore, Arora says there are four main categories: environment, health, performance and total cost of ownership (TCO). 

“When it comes to the environmental benefit, Elixore has an ultra-low-level of aromatic, which reduces ecotoxicological risk and some of the range are readily-biodegradable,” He says. 

“Not only is Elixore not classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic (CMR), but it has an extremely low vapour pressure to ensure the odour and fume emissions are low, which minimises the health risk to its users.” 

Speaking of performance, Elixore offers comparable extraction and stripping performance against conventional diluents, as well as excellent oxidation stability. 

“Because of Elixore’s lower rate of evaporation, less diluent is consumed during the lifetime of the SX cycle, thus reducing the TCO by offering up to 10 per cent of savings annually, which can be quite significant for a mine,” Arora says. 

TotalEnergies Fluids prioritises its customers by working with them through every step of the process. 

Arora says the company understands that the composition of the pregnant leach solution (PLS) for each mine is different. 

As a result, based upon the specifications provided by the customer, the company offers dedicated products, meeting those specifications for evaluation.

He says an example of this is when the company worked with a South American mine in 2019 to offer a dedicated product following feedback from a customer. 

“The customer evaluated a few products and Elixore 220 was accepted as a good balance between extraction efficiency and volatility characteristics, which was further homologated in their industrial process,” Arora says. 

This success followed TotalEnergies Fluids implementing the Elixore range at Southern Copper’s Peruvian copper SX mine, Toquepala, in 2015. 

Arora says that Southern Copper noted three major findings with Elixore: No change in performance compared to an aromatic diluent; lower crud formation, which can be linked to better oxidative stability of Elixores; and lower rates of evaporation, which lowers diluent consumption.

“From the feedback received in 2021, their annual diluent consumption fell 8.35 per cent because of Elixore’s lower rate of evaporation, thus contributing to annual cost savings,” Arora says. 

By using its cutting-edge research and development centres around the world, TotalEnergies Fluids has a multi-skilled team of passionate and experienced scientists that work on more than 40 applications to develop and provide high-quality products. 

The Elixore product range is produced in three locations – Europe, North America and Asia, ensuring ability to serve customers worldwide. 

“Diluents for SX of metals is one the newest and fastest growing applications of TotalEnergies Fluids,” he says. 

“The first drop of Elixore was sold in 2014 for the application of copper and today we are proud of supplying to multi-national mines and continue to expand with double digit yearly growth.” 

Arora says this growth is based on the quality of the product, the health, environment and safety advantages, and the lower TCO. 

“With the Ecolife offer introduced in August 2021, Elixore is ready to play an active part in contributing to greener planet and healthier balance sheets,” Arora concludes.  

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