“How does my company, Geomega Resources, fit into the rare earths recycling cycle? Geomega uses chemical processing to extract and produce purified rare earth oxides that are otherwise trapped in magnets. The magnet cannot be directly reused, because often the shape, size, coating and magnetic specifications will be hard to match to a specific application. Geomega’s process allows us to recover the rare earths and to ship them to metal and magnet manufacturers that will be able to make new products to the specifications of the end users.”
“Today, the USA is already producing rare earth elements but the problem is that it’s all going to China. It goes to China and it is refined there. As it’s refined, it’s made into magnets. What we need to hear more is what the US has started taking steps towards now with the most recent proposal by Senator Ted Cruz to subsidize the purchases of those process materials when they are produced in North America. Right now, that’s looking like the most important and best step forward to take that control. We know that’s exactly what China does when they subsidize local producers. There are so many discounts for them, but that’s something that’s missing in the USA right now.” Kiril Mugerman
Geomega’s process allows the company to “maximize the reagent so that there is minimal to no waste,” he says. What waste there is is treated locally without the need to store trailings. Geomega’s process produces REE oxides with 99.5 percent purity, Mugerman says. The company is in the process of constructing a demonstration facility in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec, in the Greater Montreal area. Construction of the industrial complex was completed at the end of 2019 with final detail work underway. While the pandemic has delayed progress on the plant, Mugerman says he hopes it will be operational by year-end. Once operational, the plant will be able to process 1.5 metric tons in an eight-hour shift, he says.
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“China’s production of critical minerals from raw materials has come at a high cost to the environment,” says Kiril Mugerman, President, Geomega Resources. “Now e-waste is being recycled using the same polluting technologies. It is important to provide a cleaner solution to both primary ores and recycling. Just because recycling is helping to avoid unnecessary mining, it doesn’t mean that we need to recycle using an old, dirty process that harms the environment.”
Advanced engineering work continues on Quebec-based Geomega Resources’ rare earth demonstration plant with first production still slated for the end of this year or early 2021 despite COVID-19 related delays.
“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.”
It’s been ten years since the first REE crisis and the problem is far from resolved but the first few seeds signal promise, and we may finally see a flower grow.
“We recently began a collaboration with Jobmaster Magnets and it quickly became very clear that Matt can bring significant industry knowledge and expertise to the Corporation as we are moving towards production. His understanding of the magnet supply chain is critical, especially in the current global environment where industrial supply chains are being redefined. As North America is looking to bring rare earths downstream processing back home, Matt’s experience with magnetic product design for various industries from aerospace to automotive is important for Geomega to fit in that supply chain. Additionally, Matt’s experience in operation management, setting up the required ISO Quality management programs and internal audits will be vital in the starting up of the first rare earths recycling plant.” added M. Mugerman.
“We discuss company’s plans to recover #rareearths from magnets, with CEO Kiril Mugerman claiming they provide the most easily accessed and highest grade concentrate available. They have just completed a pilot plant so now the focus is on building a demonstration plant. We talk through the original plan to explore and develop their large Montviel deposit but after struggling to raise capital, they segued to #rareearths recovery.”
Jeff Falk, “The United States must reduce its dependence on China-dominated supply chains for critical goods, according to a new report by experts in the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and at the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute.”
Kiril Mugerman, “When you recycle magnets, you are dealing with material entering at an average 30 percent rare earth oxide (REO). It doesn’t matter if we are getting a magnet from China, the US, Canada, or wherever — it’s always going to be running at approximately 30 percent rare earths. And it’s not just any rare earths. It always has those four elements: Nd, Pr, Dy, Tb. We don’t have to deal with any of the low value elements, like lanthanum and cerium. Mines like that just do not exist. Even if you were to imagine a mine with a grade of 80 percent REO, only 20 percent to 30 percent of that would be the 4 HHREE which would make the HHREE content 18 to 27 percent. Again, this is just hypothetical because a mine like that cannot exist because REO distribution is controlled naturally and you cannot have a mine with one element and not the other. Chemically they just stay together. “
As indicated in the April 20, 2020 press release, the Corporation obtained the natural product number (“NPN”) and all the approvals from Health Canada in order to manufacture and distribute hand sanitizer using the WHO-recommended formulation. The modifications have now been completed and production has begun. The production is from the Corporation’s Pilot Plant and allows Geomega to produce up to 675 liters per week. Although, since there is a significant lack of supplies in the market, production capabilities will depend on availability of raw materials from local distributers. The Corporation will be securing additional supply of raw material and focus on distributing its hand sanitizer product to local retirement homes, hospitals, pharmacies and distributers in the province of Québec. The Corporation will be donating 20% of its hand-sanitizer production to local long-term care homes and other charities who are helping the most vulnerable in our society during this pandemic. The Corporation would like to thank local suppliers who were able to assist and support us during this quick transition.
The Economist, “Many of the elements used in smartphones are finite resources and have no functional substitutes. Rather than digging in the ground for the elements needed for new handsets it makes sense to extract them from old phones – but only about 10% of handsets are recycled now. So recycle your phone if you get a new one this year. Why? It is you might say, Elementary.”
Listen to Kevin Price, Host of the nationally syndicated Price of Business Show, interview our CEO Kiril Mugerman.
Watch this 45 minute interview with RichTVLive.
We are proud to be able to support local efforts of COVID-19 relief. See our rare earths recycling pilot plant in the background of this picture, which we have converted to make hand sanitiser.
Mining Journal is making some of its most important coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic freely available to readers, Henry Lazenby.
“Geomega’s chemical processing team has proven once again its skill to utilize its expertise with evolving market conditions. I am proud of our team that shows flexibility, motivation and creativity, especially during a difficult situation like we see globally today. Geomega can assure its shareholders that these modifications to the pilot plant will in no way impede the progress of building the much larger demonstration plant located in nearby St. Bruno, Quebec. Geomega strives to become Canada’s first rare earth oxide producer, using recycled magnet waste, making Canada one of the few countries outside of Asia to be able to do so. Geomega has continued to advance even under recent difficult social distancing measures and is progressing successfully in the engineering work with Hatch. Upon engineering being completed, ordering the long lead items for the facility will be a priority. Geomega had recently secured project debt financing of $1.72M from the Quebec Government this February (see news release dated February 7, 2020) which has effectively fulfilled the required capital to complete construction of the Demonstration Plant. Geomega, in conjunction with the Quebec Government, has a very clear objective to establish Quebec as a hub for a clean technology and sustainable rare earths refining industry, self reliant and not dependant on other countries for key materials. In light of recent events and supply shortages, as highlighted by reported delays in medical ventilators construction due to lack of permanent magnets (see full article here), this has never been more critical. Geomega looks forward to further engagement with end users and Governments on rare earths recycling and establishing a sustainable supply chain based right here in Quebec, Canada.” Commented Kiril Mugerman, President & CEO of Geomega.
Geomega Resources Inc. reports that it has received the TSX Venture Exchange approval to effect an expiry date extension of 4,451,000 share purchase warrants and to also reprice 1,302,778 share purchase warrants.
Check out our posts on social media for an example of recycling rare earths below. The picture shows the magnets from an older pair of headphones compared with newer ones. The old ones are from over 10 years ago and have a ferrite magnet, which is big, bulky, and produces fairly bad sound. The new ones are much better. The red circle marks the NdFeB (Neodymium) magnet in the modern headphones, which weighs about 0.65 grams.
“We realized that there is this niche opportunity to enter a market where we are processing rare earths — not from a mining concentrate, but from industrial use and end-of-life applications…. Now, we are going to be buying it, processing it, producing rare earths and we will be the first rare earth producer in North America.” Kiril Mugerman
Lowering the risk when scaling up — that’s my main technological risk. Everybody knows that there is always a risk in scaling-up, but doing it in small steps is a big advantage. The ISR technology has been scaled-up. This is the final iteration of the pilot plant. Proprietary technology, environmentally safe, small footprint, low CAPEX, as I said. Why environmentally safe? Because the recovery of my main reagents is +95%. I don’t have liquid effluent coming out of my plant. It’s very important because I’ll show you where I’m developing my plant. Then, iron oxide — 70% of this is magnet is iron. When they recycle those magnets in China, usually the iron goes together with their waste hydrochloric acid into the tailings facility. Basically, it’s a red mud issue. We don’t want to be dealing with red muds, especially where I am outside Montreal.
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.