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LKAB invests in pilot plants for phosphorus and rare earth metals

Hand holding pure monoammonium phosphate
The pilot plants will enable recycling of mine waste through innovative processing, producing critical raw materials - Photo courtesy of 'EasyMining'

"We are investing 45 million kronor in pilot plants as part of a pre feasibility study to define a process that enables recycling of mine waste through innovative processing, producing critical raw materials. Lab tests conducted during the year confirmed that we can produce more phosphorus and rare earth metals than estimated," says President and Group CEO, Jan Moström.

"We are going to build two pilot plants for development and preparation for full-scale industrialisation: one in the orefields and one in Uppsala. The orefields plant will produce apatite from tailings sand. The plant in Uppsala will be run by the Ragn-Sells innovation company EasyMining, which has developed the patented technology for extracting pure monoammonium phosphate (MAP) and rare earth metals (REE) from apatite," explains Leif Boström, Senior Vice President, Special Products Division.

A sustainable future industry

Full-scale industrial production of MAP will correspond to an estimated 500 percent of Swedish demand and production of REE will amount to about 2 percent world production. The pilot phase will continue through 2020. A decision to go ahead with full-scale production may be taken in 2021.

Two main alternatives for localization of full-scale production

A pilot plant and a part of the full-scale production facilities will be situated close to LKAB's existing plant´s in northern Sweden. Subsequent processing will take place in another location, for which three main alternatives are now being assessed.
The three main alternatives are Luleå, Helsingborg and Skellefteå.

"ReeMAP is a very good example of circular economy, of recovering and reintroducing resources. We will focus on developing an operation in the location that is the best alternative from an environmental point of view, minimises transportation of materials and utilises resources in the best way. If we succeed with the industrialisation process, we will create a whole new industry in Sweden that will supply the agriculture and engineering sectors with critical raw materials while at the same time generating jobs and value for society," says LKAB's President and Group CEO, Jan Moström.