News 323 views last update:6 Aug 2012

US company eyes on a new mineral source

Half the copper trace mineral added to pig, cattle and poultry diets in the United States comes out of Micronutrients' Indianapolis plant. However, disappearing source of raw material is forcing it to turn to zinc product.

To safeguard future supplies of minerals, the US company is working to find other trace minerals the company can produce that don't rely on copper etching juice.

Steward, a chemist who grew up and was schooled in Pennsylvania, is a key part of this search for new products, as is production manager Nick Leisure. They hope the same chemical tinkering used to invent their copper chloride product will apply in developing better zinc, manganese and iron compounds to add to animal feed. And they have high hopes of coming out with essential trace minerals for human use, too.

Easy mix
Steward is confident Micronutrients can wield its scientific know-how to produce a family of trace minerals in forms that are easier to mix with feed and have better absorption in the body.

The company's work on a zinc chloride is far enough along that it already is selling small batches to one customer. Full commercial production for the zinc additive could begin next year. It would require building a new plant, probably in Indianapolis, Steward says.

He thinks a manganese additive for feed could be ready in 2009, with an iron additive available in 2010 or 2011.

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