Bad news for Aqua Metals (AQMS.Q) investors, because the stock price plummeted 43.4% after fire gutted their Nevada-based Aqua Refining plant Friday night.
The fire started after hours and resulted in no injuries. The cause of the fire isn’t known and the company is working with local authorities to investigate the origin of ignition and the root cause of the blaze.
“We have up to $50,000,000 in property casualty and business continuity and loss of production coverages and we are currently reviewing available insurance coverage. We will pursue all available claims for insurance recovery to restore the AquaRefinery to its pre-fire state and commencement of operations of all 16 AquaRefining modules,” said Steve Cotton, president of CEO of Aqua Metals.
The company’s AquaRefining technology works on lead recycling using a patented AquaRefining technology. The tech works at room temperature, and is a water-based process that releases less pollution. The systems allow the company to reduce their environmental footprint while scaling recycling production capacity by licensing the AquaRefining tech to partners.
AquaRefining uses electroplating with continuous removal of lead enabling one module to produce roughly 2.5 – 3 tonnes of ultra pure lead per day. The technology is constructed as modular systems that can enable smelting operations to increase global lead production without increasing emissions.
The principle use value for this technology includes electric cars, internet data centres, alternative energy including solar, wind and grid-scale storage.
At one point the flames reached the upper roof-line of the AquaRefinery area and damaged the roof. The fire, intense heat and smoke damaged their 16 AquaRefining modules, control wiring and other supporting infrastructure. The intense heat also released 1,600 gallons of concentrate used in the refining process. The concentrate, mingled with thousands of gallons of water used to put the fire out, ended up as one inch of liquid spread out throughout the entire plant, including the operational offices.
The company has already started recapturing the liquid and placing it back in its water treatment plant and tanks. The floor to ceiling firewall between the Refining area and the rest of the plant kept most of the damage localized to the refining area. The firewall also spared the key front-end process equipment, such as the battery breaker, concentrate production area, kettles and ingot casting, water treatment and recovery and other important areas of the plant.
The power will remain off until the company, utility provider and regulators are confident about the plant’s safety. In the meantime, the plant’s vital systems, safety and security will be run on generators.
Right now it’s too early for the company to know what kind of a pocketbook hit they’re going to take in both time and material as they put their operation back together. They’ll determine timelines, costs and availability of insurance coverage as inspections and damage assessments continue. The company estimates that the rebuild will take several months.
“First, I am most thankful that this major event did not result in any injuries. Second, I want to sincerely thank the Storey County Fire Protection District, Reno Fire Department, Sparks Fire Department, North Lyon County Fire Protection District, and Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District for their rapid and effective response which clearly greatly reduced the potential damage this fire could have caused,” said Cotton.