Feasibility studies for the construction of a commercial plant for the extractive metallurgy of platinum-group metals

 The project and its challenges

The company had developed an innovative metallurgical extraction process for the recovery of over 97% of platinum group metals from catalysts used in automotive catalytic converters. Since the basis of the process had already been demonstrated in a pilot plant, the company wished to plan and finance their next phase of development, the construction of the commercial plant. Seneca developed feasibility studies to convince potential investors and identify all of the plant’s parameters.

Seneca services included, among others:

  • Feasibility studies
  • Preliminary studies
  • Participation in site selection
  • Process design (the Seneca process package)
  • Basic engineering
  • Project management
  • Project charter and steering committee
  • Technical assistance in funding research
  • Support for grants applications.

Technology company


$9 million


2012 – 2014

The proposed solution

An optimal construction site

The company had planned to build an entire production plant. The steering committee established by Seneca reassessed the data and proposed installing operations in existing industrial spaces, thus lowering the project budget. Our team contributed to finding the site, which had a location advantage of being in a region where projects such as this one can receive funding.

Modular design

Seneca had to demonstrate creativity and flexibility in order to deploy the production operations within the available space of the existing industrial facilities. A modular type of design was suggested, which helped lower the financial risks and the construction costs. It should also be noted that the design plans were completed according to the client’s specific security needs. Precious metals require security 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is a top priority.

Green technology/innovation

Traditional extractive methods have a 70% efficiency, involve an energy-consuming thermal process, and process North American wastes in Africa. This project, developed in collaboration with Seneca, is a significant Canadian investment in green technologies. The new process recovers 90% of accumulated wastes.


Efficient process

Seneca was able to adapt a process for small-scale testing in a laboratory to an automated production unit. Therefore, the designed process was less labour-intensive, which in turn helped decrease the forecasted operation costs.

The results

  • Lower construction budget
  • Lower operation budget
  • Lower risks
  • Simplified process.

This project was a success for the whole team, as our technical skills and creativity helped cut millions of dollars from our client’s budget.

Raymond Simoneau, ing., P. Eng., MBA

Vice-President, Engineering and Process Development, Seneca

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