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By A.J. Roan
Metal Tech News 

Rio Tinto further funds Geomega tech

A byproduct of a byproduct could add value to alumina waste Metal Tech News – April 27, 2022

 

Last updated 4/26/2022 at 11:35am

A huge pond of aluminum waste, also called red mud, can be recovered with IBRT.

Wikimedia Commons

A massive plot of red mud outside of Stade, Germany. With Geomega's IBRT, it could all be cleaned up and repurposed.

After receiving C$4 million in funding toward a pilot plant and feasibility study for the sustainable recovery of iron and critical minerals from aluminum waste, Geomega Resources Inc. has entered into a development agreement with partner Rio Tinto that provides C$1 million to complete proof-of-concept work being carried out by Geomega subsidiary Innord Inc.

As the largest aluminum producer in North America, Rio Tinto has agreed to begin evaluating in parallel with Innord, opportunities to monetize the iron compounds produced by Innord's Bauxite Residues Technology (IBRT).

IBRT is an extension of Geomega's core Innord's Separation of Rare Earths (ISR) technology, a proprietary, low-cost, environmentally friendly way to tap into the C$1.5 billion global market to recycle end-of-life rare earth magnets and production waste.

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.

Although originally developed to recover rare earths from magnets and ore, Geomega discovered its process could be used in an all but nonexistent market, the processing of bauxite residue.

Commonly referred to as red mud, bauxite residue is a byproduct generated during the refining of alumina, an oxide material that is a precursor to aluminum metal. It is estimated that roughly 1.4 tons of bauxite residue is produced per ton of aluminum. More than 150 million metric tons of this red mud is leftover and stored in tailings ponds annually.

By recovering the iron, aluminum, titanium, scandium, and rare earths from these storage facilities, the bauxite residue technology being developed by Innord could reduce the waste by as much as 80% while also offering a new source for these metals.

Over the next 12 months, Innord has committed to developing and testing an extension of its IBRT technology to produce a product that will be evaluated by Rio Tinto.

"We are excited to further extend our cooperation with Rio Tinto on bauxite residues," said Kiril Mugerman, president and CEO of Geomega Resources and Innord. "Iron is the largest component of bauxite residues, and we believe that this stream holds the keys to a successful implementation of Innord's complete and sustainable valorization of said residues. This project will evaluate the added value transformation of the iron compound produced using IBRT, creating potentially new and more profitable markets for this product."

This has the potential to create a new value stream for Rio Tinto, reduce the financial and environmental liabilities associated with storing the red mud, and extend the life at alumina operations without the need to build additional storage.

For Geomega, this offers a way to scale up and generate revenue from a technology with the potential to transform costly waste products into valuable metals.

"A successful project has the potential to increase the commercial viability of IBRT and contribute to its expedited commercialization," finished Mugerman.

With more than 4 billion metric tons of red mud stored in facilities around the world, there is no shortage of material for a commercial version of Innord's bauxite residue technology.

Although a year from now, if the testing proves viable, a new value chain may be added to the recovery of aluminum waste, adding additional incentive to revisit and clean up the easily forgotten remnants of mining operations around the world.

The intellectual property developed will be owned by Rio Tinto, which has fully funded the project. As the contributor of the underlying IBRT technology, Innord will receive a royalty payment from commercial products resulting from the process developed. Details of the agreement between Geomega and Rio Tinto, including the royalty level, will remain confidential.

 

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