Monday, June 20, 2011

Is Arizona solar company mining its own Tellurium?

Tempe-based First Solar corporation is the world's largest producer of photovoltaic solar panels, using thin-film technology based on cadmium and tellurium (Cd-Te). Recently, GE announced they will enter the same market. For the past few years, there has been rampant speculation about whether the world production of tellurium will be able to meet the needs of these solar manufacturers.

Today, the Green Tech Media blog revealed a mass of circumstantial evidence indicating First Solar may be mining its own Te from a gold and silver mine in Mexico. In his blog post, Eric Wessof says:

A 10K SEC document filed by California Gold Corp (CLGL:OTC BB) says, "Minera Teloro, S.A. de C.V.," which, to our knowledge, is a subsidiary of First Solar.

The 10K continues,

"The La Bambolla Concession is owned by Minera Teloro, S.A. de C.V., a Mexican company reported in the past to be a subsidiary of First Solar, Inc. (“First Solar”). ... A report in the Sonora Geological-Mining Monograph published by the Consejo de Recursos Minerales ("CRM") describes the La Bambolla vein system as being a 2-meter thick quartz-pyrite-hematite-gold system that averages 4.0 g/ton gold and 5 g/ton silver, respectively. ... More than 500 channel samples taken in the underground workings of the La Bambolla mine show the presence of gold and tellurium. The gold grades are in the 0.03 to 4.90 oz/ton range, and average about 0.46 oz/ton Au. The tellurium grades range from 0.01 to 3.26 %, and average 0.25 % Te. The tellurium content of these samples in parts per million (ppm) ranges from 100 to 32,600 ppm, and averages 2,500 ppm. ... Reportedly, the La Bambolla mine dumps also contain visible native tellurium as well as tellurite and sonoraite, which are secondary tellurium minerals."

First Solar has been looking for suppliers who would focus on mining tellurium. Capital Mining in Australia announced in May 2008 that First Solar was sending a geologist to check out a newly discovered tellurium deposit.

He also refers to the figure at right, from a presentation by Mexivada, that describes a mining property "adjacent to First Solar high-grade Au-Te mine."

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