REEtec: The Separation of Rare Earth Elements (REE)
In 2022 LKAB become the largest owner in REEtec AS, and with that the companies builds a strong Nordic industry for rare earth elements. Increased European self-sufficiency must address the entire value chain, from mining to processing and production of key components for which rare earth elements are required, for example, permanent magnets. Since Europe does not mine these materials and has only marginal processing capacity, LKAB and REEtec’s collaboration marks the start of something new in Europe. The plan is for REEtec’s first factory, in Herøya, Norway, to be ready by the second half of 2024, and for a second factory, planned for 2026, that can process material from LKAB that will be available as of 2027.
In LKAB’s process, the rare earth elements are extracted to produce a concentrate which is a blend of all of these elements. To become metals they must first be separated. The REEtec process combines high efficiency and competitive cost, with up to 90 percent lower carbon dioxide emissions. A key feature of the process is that virtually all inputs are recovered and recycled. The energy requirement is very low and electricity use is based entirely on hydropower sources from Norway’s green grid. REEtec’s technology enables production of high-grade products very effectively and with significantly lower environmental impact than conventional separation processes for rare earth elements.
Read the press release here