Florida’s Eco Ventures Group is well on its way to building a diversified family of companies focused on the Triple Bottom Line across three business lines much in the public media spotlight. First, applying a new, cleaner method of extracting platinum, rare earth and precious metals and minerals from reclaimed mine tailings and hard rock ore deposits. Second, producing biodiesel from recovered and virgin cooking oils and animal fats. Third, growing and importing tropical oilseeds using sustainable agricultural techniques in areas where dual cropping and crop rotation are feasible.
“The time has come for a new development model to provide and promote our nation’s heralded standard of living for generations to come – while caring for the Earth and reducing our dependence on external sources of goods and energy — this is the guiding philosophy behind Eco Venture Group’s activities,” according to management.
The Eco Ventures Group is made up of three subsidiary groups: the Eco Minerals Recovery Group, the Eco Energy Group, and the Eco Growers Group. EVG’s strategic partner, the Raptor Technology Group, has developed the processes and technology EVG is working to commercialize.
Efficient, Less Ecologically Damaging Metal & Mineral Extraction
EVG’s Eco Minerals Recovery Group, in joint venture with Raptor Technology, is using a patent pending, high yield/low cost method of extracting precious and platinum group metals and rare earth elements from mine tailings and primary ore sources. These include gold, silver, platinum, palladium, rhodium and rare earth oxides.
Using Raptor’s method of extracting metals and minerals from mining waste ponds and slag heaps, EVG and Raptor expect results that include the cleaning up of mine waste while at the same time protecting water resources.
Mineral extraction, according to Raptor, “will be accomplished without the use of traditional mineral leaching agents like arsenic and cyanide – highly toxic substances that pollute rivers and aquifers. All minerals are recovered using a ‘batch process’ that allows for near constant production and the recycling of over 95% of the leaching chemicals used to extract the minerals.”
EVG’s Eco Minerals Recovery Group is building a facility in Groveland, Florida capable of processing 5,000 tons of reclaimed ore per year with a 60%-70% recovery rate. In partnership with Raptor Technology Group’s D&D Mining, it has a 20-year contract to process more than 2,000 tons of ore a year with a Utah mine that holds some 25 million tons of potential mined ore. A mineral-rich concentrate will be sold to buyers at near pure metal spot prices, according to EVG.
Producing Advanced Biofuels from Yellow Grease, Tropical Oilseeds & Animal Fats
EVG’s Eco Energy Group is presently focused on applying Raptor’s “supercritical” process technology to produce biodiesel from recovered cooking oils, so-called ‘yellow grease’, at a 3.6 million gallon refining facility in Groveland that was due to be commissioned in June. The use of Raptor’s processing technology will give the EVG group the ability to use a wide variety of feedstocks, as well as all parts of feedstock plants, thereby helping it maintain a comparatively stable, low cost base.
Raptor has secured long term contracts for “sufficient quantities of Florida’s yellow grease to guarantee biodiesel production fro Eco Energy at full capacity,” according to EVG. The Eco Energy Group also intends to complement its recovered yellow grease feedstock with harvested seed oils, which it intends to blend to yield a high-performance biodiesel that meets ASTM International biodiesel standards.
EVG projects that revenue from biodiesel production will enable it build a second processing facility by the end of Year 2, doubling capacity to 7.2 million gallons per year. It is also working with Raptor to produce electricity through biomass gasification, pyrolysis and incineration.
Growing Castor & Soy in Panama
EVG’s Eco Growers Group will use sustainable agricultural methods to cultivate tropical oil crops on leased lands in Panama. These methods include avoiding large monocultures to maintain soil fertility by rotating castor bean and other oil crops, such as soy, peanuts and canola, and planting two rotations each year.
Climate conditions in Panama allow for double cropping alternating planting, which management expects will result in quantities of feedstock able to yield 300 gallons of biodiesel per acre per year. The remaining materials, post oil extraction, are usable, accepted sources for bioethanol production and biomass for electricity generation, including the resulting seed meals, which are commercially sold animal feeds.
The Panama plantations are expected to be self-financing in 2012, at which time management plans to plant short rotation timber and bamboo “on sites too steep or inaccessible for viable oil crop production.” In addition to diversifying the Group’s revenue base, this will have the salutary effects of helping prevent erosion and protecting water resources, while also enabling EVG to qualify for Panama’s tax exemptions on reforestation.
The Group’s plantations will serve as a carbon sink, according to EVG. Management intends to apply for carbon sequestration credits that can be sold on voluntary carbon markets as a means of supplementing the group’s income.
According to the company, “Eco Growers Group gives EVG an edge in the global biofuels market, serving as the internal company insurance policy against a volatile global biodiesel feedstock market.
“By directly providing a cost-effective feedstock, the Eco Growers subsidiary will insulate the Eco Energy Group from production freezes due to shortages or from feedstock prices that are too high to maintain cost-effective biodiesel production.”