Mining, refining and recycling of rare earths and other critical materials, and clean technologies developer, Geomega Resources, is pleased to announce that its subsidiary Innord has been awarded funding worth $1.5-million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) towards the construction of a pilot plant and completion of a feasibility study using Innord’s technology, which is designed for a sustainable and complete valorisation of bauxite residues.
The cost of the project is estimated at C$4-million, towards which mining company Rio Tinto will invest $C1.2-million, the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation through Investissement Québec as a mandatary of the Government of Québec with the Programme Innovation has provided C$300 000 and Geomega will contribute C$550 000. The remaining C$450 000 is intended to be funded by a third-party organisation towards the later stages of the project and will be announced accordingly.
The collaborative research work will be led by Geomega chief technology officer Dr Pouya Hajian and will be performed by Innord’s research team in collaboration with Rio Tinto’s research and development team.
“Bauxite residue, the waste generated from aluminum production, requires significant management and monitoring from mining companies to avoid environmental impacts. Innord is developing a process that reduces the volume of red mud by [between] 70% to 90% while recovering valuable minerals from that waste. SDTC is pleased to provide funding to help Innord scale up its solution to make the industry more sustainable,” comments SDTC CEO Leah Lawrence.
Rio Tinto by-product valorisation director Stephane Poirier says Rio Tinto looks forward to continuing its partnership with Geomega to support the development of this technology aimed at finding new uses for bauxite residue, the waste from the alumina refining process.
“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.”
Minister of Economy and Innovation and Minister Responsible for Regional Economic Development Pierre Fitzgibbon says investing in green aluminum is a strategic move for Quebec’s economy and the future of manufacturing. “We will continue to support any project that gives us a competitive edge in this area.
“We wish to thank SDTC for their contribution to this exciting, innovative and challenging project,” says Fitzgibbon. “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.
“Further, we also wish to thank Rio Tinto for its support over the last 12 months and its continued collaboration on this project,” comments Geomega and Innord president and CEO Kiril 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. The corporation is very grateful for the continued support from the Quebec government through Investissement Quebec, which is dedicated to supporting research and development, innovation and clean technologies in Quebec.”
Over the course of the last 12 months, Innord’s research team has worked closely with technical experts from its partner Rio Tinto to deliver a bench scale study project and is now prepared for the next stage of scale-up. The project, expected to be completed over the next 24 months, will include the construction of a pilot plant, to be installed and commissioned at Innord’s facilities 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. If this feasibility study is successful, it is intended that the consortium will continue to work together to bring the bauxite residue valorisation process to commercialisation,” says Hajiani.
Ownership of the intellectual property developed through the research work associated with the project will remain with Innord.
The announced funding from all parties is nondilutive to both Geomega and Innord. The SDTC funding is subject to a successful negotiation of a project funding agreement (PFA) with SDTC. The PFA is expected to be entered into shortly.
Meanwhile, Rio Tinto representatives will be attending the Investing in African Mining Indaba, which will be held from May 9 to 12 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. These representatives include Rio Tinto minerals CEO Sinead Kaufman and Eurasian explorations director Ken Tainton.