Final Report: Minerals Recovery of Copper Stamp Sand on Lake Superior Coastline for Use as Raw Material in the Manufacture of Roofing Shingles

EPA Contract Number: EPD08062
Title: Minerals Recovery of Copper Stamp Sand on Lake Superior Coastline for Use as Raw Material in the Manufacture of Roofing Shingles
Investigators: Popko, Domenic
Small Business: Lesktech Limited
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: II
Project Period: May 1, 2008 through April 30, 2010
Project Amount: $224,999
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2008) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Cleanup of Contaminated Sediments


The purpose of this project was to find suitable industrial applications to utilize a 90 million ton copper mining by-product deposited on the shoreline of Lake Superior in the years from 1900-1932. The material was originally deposited near the town of Gay in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Due to the predominant north shoreline drift, however, the stamp-sand material migrated south of the original deposition site over the years and now covers approximately 5 miles of the Lake Superior shoreline. Because of the copper rich makeup of the stamp-sand, anywhere the material dominates the land the area is devoid of biological growth.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

Lesktech Limited has examined the possibilities of producing a roofing shingle granule from the copper rich stamp-sand that would be algae- and mold-resistant and also would have all the physical properties necessary to make a quality roofing granule. Through the research excellence of Michigan Technological University, the material was chemically and physically characterized. Specimens of the stamp-sand were placed in biological growth chambers to determine if the material would prevent the growth of algae and mold. Each of the germs was proved to be inhibited. The stamp sand then was sized to a specification used in a standard roofing shingle. These specifications are depicted in the following table.  Lesktech discovered that 80 percent of the material at the site mentioned above was suitable to fit in roofing granule applications.
Standard Sieve
Percent Retained
    * Table of Particle Sizes Standard to Roofing Manufacturers (Owens Corning)
Once the particle size was established, the material was tested by pressing it into asphalt to simulate the application that would be used by an asphalt shingle. The material in its natural state failed the test due to its water-loving nature, which caused it to impede the necessary bond to the asphalt. Lesktech Limited and MTU needed to develop an application to ensure that bonding characteristics would take place. Through extensive literature research and with the aid of experts in shingle manufacturing, Lesktech acquired a series of chemical applications, developed a proprietary chemical application to coat the granules to make them water repellant, and developed a proprietary mixture to make the granules successfully adhere to the asphalt in a manner suitable to the roofing manufacturers.
With the above mentioned developments, Michigan Technological University applied for a patent and Lesktech acquired exclusive licensing rights to the technology through the university. Lesktech has engaged in a new corporation, GreenSand Corporation, which gained exclusive rights to the stockpile located in the Gay, MI area that is solely owned by the Keweenaw County Road Commission (KCRC).  Through a royalty agreement, KCRC will be paid on a per-ton basis of the manufacturing of the granule product. The stockpile is estimated at 90 million tons of crushed stamp sand. 
Once the proper recipe for water repellency and proper adhesion to the asphalt medium was satisfied by MTU, G-Sand samples were sent to all the dominant shingle manufacturers to have testing performed in their R&D departments. At this moment, Lesktech has had 100% positive feedback on our material from these companies. Logistic studies have been performed for material transport. The material resides on the shoreline of Lake Superior making water transportation an option, and it is also close to rail transportation. At this time we have a request of over 300,000 tons per year to be price quoted to two different roofing material manufacturers. 
GreenSand Corporation also has begun negotiations with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) in Baraga County. With an unemployment rate of more than 20%, they are in search of much needed jobs for their area. Meetings have been held with KBIC council, and conversations have progressed to the construction of a roofing shingle plant. This would be a reasonable way to use this G-Sand material because all size components utilized in a roofing shingle can be produced from the G-Sand material. Not only does the G-Sand possess all the physical components necessary; it would also produce a shingle that is both mold and algae resistant. While satisfying the needs of the shingle plants in the near proximity, GreenSand also could produce granules for other shingle manufacturers in other parts of the country. Since December of 2009, GreenSand has developed a quality business plan along with plant engineering specifics for a granule-producing plant and logistical studies to transport this material to various locations.
Lesktech continues promotional efforts of this project and has pursued additional funding through the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the 21st Century Fund of the Smartzone Enterprise of Hancock, MI.  Negotiations continue with roofing manufacturers for product placement.

Supplemental Keywords:

Sustainable Industry/Business, Scientific Discipline, RFA, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, roof shingles, recycling, alternative materials, resource recovery, mineral recovery  , RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, alternative materials, mineral recovery, recycling, roof shingles, resource recovery

SBIR Phase I:

Minerals Recovery of Copper Mine Tailings on Lake Superior Coastline for Use as Raw Material in the Manufacture of Roofing Shingles  | Final Report