“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
The Lars Larson Show Honestly Provocative Talk Radio
“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.
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 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.”
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. “
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.
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.