The process of manufacturing and machining sintered (compacting powder into a solid mass) neodymium magnet blocks generates up to 30% magnet chips and scrap, which needs to be recycled. “Every rare earth magnet factory produces waste; it is just the nature of the business because it is a difficult material to work with,” said Geomega Resources President and CEO Kiril Mugerman. “When Hitachi operated this plant, the waste was sent to Asia.” A neodymium magnet manufacturing facility that takes advantage of the full capacity of the equipment acquired by USA Rare Earth would generate somewhere around 600 metric tons of waste annually, which Geomega plans to recycle back into the North American REE supply chain.
As part of its mine-to-magnets strategy, earlier this year USA Rare Earth purchased the sintered neo magnet manufacturing equipment formerly owned and operated in North Carolina by Hitachi Metals America, Ltd. (Earlier post.) USA Rare Earth is currently evaluating options for the location of the plant, which will become the first neo magnet manufacturing plant in North America since the Hitachi facility ceased operations in 2015.
“The grant of this patent acknowledges that our unique process has been recognized and protected.” said Kiril Mugerman, President & CEO of Geomega. “The Montviel metallurgy research executed in 2014 and 2015 (See news releases from April 29, 2015 and May 20, 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 permanent magnet market — it was 160 thousand tonnes in 2018. Today, it’s closer towards two hundred thousand tonnes. That market is growing. Every single magnet that has to be made produces 15-30% waste by weight. That’s a lot of magnet to be recycled. We are starting with the first plant of approximately $10M ten million dollars in sales and growing to full capacity within the plant, then probably looking to add a second plant as soon as possible close to magnet manufacturers. Most of them are in Asia, but you’re seeing more and more interest of some of those manufacturers to come to Europe and North America. That magnet sector today is generating $1.2 billion dollars annually. It’s expected to grow to $1.8 billion dollars. That’s a lot of money and it’s a sector that we want to take a big chunk out of. We think we can generate a lot of revenues and that’s why we think it’s a very good opportunity to invest in GEOMEGA today.
“We are very excited to work together with Jobmaster Magnets on setting an example and becoming a leader in magnet collection and recycling. Jobmaster Magnets is one of the largest and oldest Canadian magnet suppliers with over 35 years’ experience in the industry. They serve various industries including the automotive and manufacturing sectors, both major users of magnets. Jobmaster Magnets’ clients, in Canada and abroad, will be able to benefit from having their magnets recycled in a clean and sustainable way right here in Canada while preserving this critical resource from going to the land fills. As outlined in the U.S. Federal Government open funding opportunity for REE separation and processing project that Geomega is applying for, recycled feedstocks are being considered as a potential source. This first collaboration agreement is a step forward to establish a rare earth magnet recycling industry in North America to produce a consistent, reliable and sustainable supply of the required magnet focused rare earths (Nd, Pr, Dy, Tb) for future government and commercial needs.” commented Kiril Mugerman, President & CEO of Geomega.
Strengths of Geomega as per @GITI_SG on twitter,
“It is environmentally benign recycling, not messy mining. The project is feasible at current rare earths prices. No use and disposal of ten thousands of tons of acids for processing, but in-house recovery of >90% of recycling agents used. Geomega turns out only the hot items among the rare earths. This project helps alleviate the rare earths inherent imbalance of by-products, i.e. hard rock mining (massively) overproduces 9 rare earths products in order to meet demand of 5 hot rare earths products. 4 of the 5 hot rare earths products plus cobalt will be produced by Geomega through recycling. Geomega’s know-how is proprietary, not licensed from China. Different from other western recycling companies, who try to pry out grams of rare earths from consumer electronics at hugely disproportionate cost, Geomega will recycle industrial magnets in larger quantities and can therefore offer China-competitive prices.”
Quebec-based GeoMegA Resources has developed a proprietary, environmentally-friendly ISR technology that recycles rare earth elements using magnet residue and recycled magnets as the main source of feed. The company intends to process feed from magnet manufacturers, alloy makers, and recyclers across Europe and the US at it’s Canadian facility. The company uses organic, solvent-free proprietary technology to isolate and purify four high demand, high priced rare earth elements, which represents an estimated 30% of annual global demand for rare earth elements and 80% of the total market value.
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