The Elements of Innovation Discovered

Aluminum waste recovery tech draws funds

Innord to receive C$1.5M for pilot plant and feasibility study Metal Tech News - April 1, 2022

Using a technology initially intended to recover rare earths from recycled magnets, Geomega Resources Inc. subsidiary Innord Inc. has received sizable funding toward an unexpected benefit of the technology, to extract value from and reduce the environmental footprint of aluminum waste from refineries.

Awarded a C$1.5 million funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada, this accelerates Geomega's plans toward the construction of a pilot plant and the completion of a feasibility study.

"We wish to thank SDTC for their contribution to this exciting, innovative and challenging project," said Geomega Resources President and CEO Kiril Mugerman. "As a leading Canadian organisation in supporting the development of innovative clean technologies, we appreciate their contribution and look forward to working with the SDTC team as a valued partner in delivering a sustainable and complete solution to the bauxite residues challenge that is so important to both the Canadian and the global aluminum industry."

Projected to be somewhere around C$4 million, partner Rio Tinto plans to invest C$1.2 million, the Quebec government will provide C$300,000, and finally, Geomega itself will contribute C$500,000. The remaining C$450,000 is intended to be funded by a third-party organization toward the later stages of the project and will be announced accordingly.

"We look forward to continuing our partnership with Geomega and will support their development of this technology aimed at finding new uses for bauxite residue," said Rio Tinto's Director of By-product Valorization Stephane Poirier. "This has the potential to not only reduce the environmental footprint of aluminium production, but to also deliver new sources of materials such as critical minerals needed to support a low carbon future."

Bauxite residue is a byproduct that is generated during the refining of alumina. Geomega's core project is based around the ISR technology – Innord's Separation of Rare Earths, a proprietary, low-cost, environmentally friendly way to tap into the C$1.5 billion global market to recycle magnet production waste and end-of-life magnets.

Although originally developed to target magnets and REE ore, Geomega discovered its process could be used in an all but nonexistent market.

You can read more about Geomega's process at Aluminum waste to critical minerals asset in the May 26, 2021 edition of Metal Tech News.

Commonly referred to as red mud, a reference to the color and consistency of this waste material, bauxite residues are typically stored in large containment facilities. The large quantities of this ofttimes caustic red mud have led researchers and refiners to seek alternative uses for it.

"Bauxite residue, the waste generated from aluminum production, requires significant management and monitoring from mining companies to avoid environmental impacts," said Sustainable Development Technology Canada CEO Leah Lawrence. "Innord Inc. is developing a process that reduces the volume of red mud by 70-90% while recovering valuable minerals from that waste. SDTC is pleased to provide funding to help Innord Inc. scale-up their solution to make the industry more sustainable."

While parent company Geomega focuses on developing innovative technologies, ownership of the intellectual property developed through the research work with the bauxite residue recycling will remain with Innord.

"Over the course of the last 12 months, Innord's research team has worked closely with technical experts from our partner Rio Tinto to deliver a bench scale study project and is now prepared for the next stage of scale up," commented Pouya Hajiani, chief technology officer for Geomega and Innord. "The project, estimated to be completed over the next 24 months, will include the construction of a pilot plant, to be installed and commissioned in Boucherville, which will ultimately form the basis for a techno-economic feasibility study of the process."

The feasibility study will be used to assess the environmental performance of the technology and address the marketability of the final products, the company says.

"If this feasibility study is successful, it is intended that the consortium will continue to work together to bring the BR valorization process to commercialization," added Hajiani.

This just so happens to benefit the largest aluminum manufacturer in the world, Rio Tinto, as well.

"We also wish to thank Rio Tinto for their support over the last 12 months and their continued collaboration on this project," continued Mugerman. "Working with the Rio Tinto team has demonstrated that it is clearly a company that believes in innovation and is committed to developing sustainable technologies around the critical and strategic materials which the world requires."


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