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A project at Montana Tech looks for valuable metals in slag



Butte, Montana – It’s filthy, ugly, and made of slag.

And although residents of Butte and Anaconda have had to put up with it for years, Montana Tech just secured a federal grant to try and find a new use for this trash.

“Naturally we’re super excited and I think we are very confident of success,” said Montana Tech Metallurgical Professor Avimanyu Das.

The Butte University received more than $700,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop new techniques for extracting precious metals from slag. The byproduct of smelting ore for copper and steel is called slag.

This slag will be taken by Tech’s metallurgical department, which will extract additional precious metals from it. The slag will be better for recycling as a result of this.

“It’s beneficial from an environmental issue as well because slag if it lies there for a number of years, it starts leaching into the groundwater,” said Das.

The university will utilize the money to pay project workers, purchase necessary supplies, and buy equipment. If it works, this technique will be very profitable financially.

“The waste material, it doesn’t cost anything; in fact, people will be eager to donate any slag if we request,” said Das.

Students who take part in the three-year experiment will also benefit from it.

“They will get skilled with that education both in the classroom and in the laboratory, so when they graduate, they will be fully equipped to handle future responsibilities,” he said.