Geomega gains rare earths recycling patent

Montreal-based company obtains U.S. patent for rare earth and niobium extraction method.

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Montreal-based Geomega Resources Inc. says its patent titled “A system and a method for metallurgical extraction of rare earth elements (REE) and niobium” has been approved for granting by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The company, which describes itself as a rare earth clean technologies developer for mining and recycling, says the technology was developed in-house for a rare earth elements deposit found near Montviel, Quebec. The same technology can be applied to a recycling process for end-of-life magnets, according to Geomega.

On its website, Geomega says it has engaged in partnerships with other companies to collect end-of-life magnets to harvest RREs from that scrap stream. It says Rocklink, its partner in Europe, collects approximately 16 metric tons of scrap magnets annually from 70 companies there.

“We have companies like Jobmasters [near] Toronto, who recently joined us in this initiative to collect more magnets,” says Kiril Mugerman, president and CEO of Geomega. “They represent hundreds of clients — each one of those clients wants to collect rare earth magnets. Everybody is striving toward a zero waste policy, which means they want to return whatever they don’t use or send scrap back to the manufacturer. That manufacturer or distributor wants to send it back to a recycling plant, and that’s where we come in.”

Mugerman says. “The grant of this patent acknowledges that our unique process has been recognized and protected. The Montviel metallurgy research executed in 2014 and 2015 led to these patents and set the framework for how Geomega operates today committed to lowering the environmental footprint of processes to extract and separate REE, reagent regeneration and minimizing the amount of effluents and solid waste that are generated. Geomega is in discussions with potential partners to use this expertise in metallurgical treatment of REE to help develop a Western supply chain.”

The technology was developed by Pouya Hajiani, Geomega’s chief technology officer, and tested in laboratory settings and what Geomega calls at “bench scale.” The patents cover an approach that reduces the use of reagents while producing high recoveries of both REE and niobium, adds the firm.

“With rare earths supply chains under the microscope again, efforts are underway by the U.S. and Canadian governments to bring critical materials production back to North America, which would favor Geomega,” says Mugerman.

“Coupled together with our ISR (Innord's Separation of REE) technology, Geomega could ultimately deliver a complete solution of primary mining, recycling and separation all under one roof,” adds Mugerman.

Geomega says it is advancing toward initial production from its demonstration plant to supply what it calls high-value REEs to North America and other parts of the world.