Specialty cleantech company Itronics has shipped the first silver bullion produced by its new refining furnace technology.
The new technology has enabled the company to increase energy savings from 34% to 44%.
Commissioned in May, Itronics's new refining furnace operates at 2,100°F and another furnace has since been opened.
Itronics said it has witnessed a 12% increase in operating temperatures, representing a 29% overall improvement since the new furnaces began operations.
Itronics president Dr John Whitney previously said: "The new furnace technology is working well and provides a level of control and reliability over the refining chemistry that we have never had before.
"The electrical energy cost savings and reduction in maintenance costs are expected to enhance the profitability of our silver refining operation."
Implementing FeLix and SuLix leaching technologies, the company has been recovering metals and minerals from solid materials.
FeLix recovers zinc and potassium from non-mercury bearing silver batteries, and zinc, manganese and potassium from non-mercury bearing alkaline batteries. SuLix is a process to remove sulphur.
The company intends to scale-up the leaching process to supply large quantities of leached solids to the refinery for silver separation and purification, as improvement in furnace productivity has resulted in a shortage of leached solids feed.
Itronics produces GOLD'n GRO specialty liquid fertilisers and silver bullion from spent photoliquids. It owns aniron oxide copper gold (IOCG) mineral property, Auric Fulstone Project, in Yerington Copper Mining District in north-western Nevada, US.