LKAB invests in pilot plants for phosphorus and rare earth metals

20 February 2019

“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,” says President and Group CEO, Jan Moström.

“Lab tests conducted during the year confirmed that we can produce more phosphorus and rare earth metals than estimated.

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 Ragn-Sells innovation company EasyMining will run the plant in Uppsala. This company 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

As a result we expect full-scale industrial production of MAP to correspond to an estimated 500 percent of Swedish demand. In addition we hope for the production of REE to amount to about 2 percent world production. The pilot phase will continue through 2020. Therefore, we expect to take a decision to go ahead with full-scale production in 2021.

Two main alternatives for localization of full-scale production

We will situate a pilot plant and a part of the full-scale production facilities close to LKAB’s existing plants in northern Sweden. Subsequent processing will take place in another location, for which we currently assess three main alternatives.
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.

Job creation in Sweden

“True success with the industrialisation process, will create a whole new industry in Sweden. As a result, this industry will supply the agriculture and engineering sectors with critical raw materials. At the same time this will generate jobs and value for society,” says LKAB’s President and Group CEO, Jan Moström.