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A pilot plant to recycle bauxite residues

A Quebec SME specializing in clean technologies to extract, refine and recycle rare earths and other critical materials, will build a pilot plant to recycle bauxite residue. (Photo: 123RF)

Together with Rio Tinto, Geomega Resources (GMA.V, $0.30), a Quebec SME specializing in clean technologies to extract, refine and recycle rare earths and other critical materials, will build a pilot plant to recycle residues of bauxite, the main ore used to produce aluminium.

The pilot plant will be built at a cost of 4 million dollars (M$) in Boucherville, on the South Shore of Montreal, and it could be operational within 24 months. Managing bauxite residue—the most significant waste by-product generated to produce alumina—represents an environmental challenge for aluminum smelters.

This is why Rio Tinto is investing $1.2 million in this project, while Geomega is injecting $550,000.

Geomega will also carry out a feasibility study using the technology of Innord (its wholly-owned subsidiary), which has been designed for “sustainable and complete recovery of bauxite residues”.

Innord’s technology is in fact based on the processes initially developed by Geomega to recycle rare earth magnets (REE).

In concrete terms, the feasibility study will be used to assess the environmental performance of the technology, which will then make it possible to determine the possibilities of marketing products resulting from the recycling of bauxite residues.

Commercialization potential of derivative products

“If the project is successful, the technology will be the first of its kind to upgrade bauxite residue,” explains in an email to The Business Kiril Mugerman, President and CEO of Geomega and Innord.

In his view, this is important for Quebec, a major aluminum producer which is trying to be a leader in sustainable development and which could one day offer not only low-carbon aluminum, but also aluminum without bauxite residues.

“Such a technology could create a new sustainable source of critical and strategic materials, and create many new jobs in Quebec,” insists Kiril Mugerman.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a federal organization, and the Ministry of Economy and Innovation (through Investissement Québec) are also investing $1.5 million and $300,000, respectively, in this project.

According to Geomega, the remaining $450,000 “must be funded by a third-party organization for later stages of the project and will be announced accordingly.”

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