Geomega Resources Inc., Montreal, says it has completed testing and optimization of its rare earths pilot plant at the National Resource Council Canada facility in Boucherville, Quebec. The company says this is the second-generation pilot plant after the completion of Geomega’s minipilot in April 2019.
According to a news release from Geomega Resources on its new pilot plant, significant engineering work was performed that confirmed the validity of the corporation’s recycling technology for rare earths recovered from magnets. Geomega says the next engineering phase will begin shortly followed by the ordering and receipt of equipment for the construction of the larger demonstration plant in Saint-Bruno, Quebec.
Four complete rounds of testing covering the entire recycling process were completed to date, confirming the efficacy of the corporation’s technology to produce rare earths, Geomega states. Pilot plant testing also has validated and facilitated equipment selection for the demonstration plant.
Additionally, the pilot plant validates several process efficiencies. Rare earth recoveries are just above a 90 percent efficiency level; main reagent regeneration is at about 90 percent efficiency; product purities are just above a 99.5 percent efficiency level; and heating and cooling design updates confirm the process schedule of a three-batch process per each eight-hour shift, according to the company.
Two new features also were tested in this pilot plant and integrated into the company’s recycling process. Boron, a small but important component in neodymium iron boron magnets, can now be recovered as a byproduct of the process, which the company says will have a positive impact on energy efficiency and anticipated revenue. Hydrogen, an emerging clean energy fuel in Quebec and globally, can be produced as a byproduct as well. The company says hydrogen recovery is important because of its potential to reduce the project's overall energy consumption and demonstration of the potential in applying the process to other metal-rich feeds that lack valuables elements and are not being recycled in light of poor economics.
Geomega reports that it expects to continue running this pilot unit on an as-needed basis to test various types of materials it receives on a regular basis and to produce additional material for testing by various end users.
“Having a fully operational pilot plant has provided Geomega with the necessary validation to proceed to the next stages of engineering, finalize discussions with vendors and launch procurement,” says Kiril Mugerman, president and CEO of Geomega. “Additional development and details on these activities will follow. We fully expect 2021 to be a transformational year for Geomega shareholders with the upcoming construction of the demonstration plant and its start of production of rare earth oxide using recycled magnets, a first in the western world. We believe that the accelerated demand growth for renewable energy and the electric vehicle sectors, coupled with industries and governments striving for zero waste and reductions in greenhouse gases, is going to result in an even larger demand for recycling rare earths from magnets and other sources. Geomega is looking forward to providing the required clean technology in the critical metal space to achieve a circular economy for rare earth magnets with its initial demonstration plant to be showcased in Saint-Bruno, Quebec.”