Latrobe Magnesium - turning residual ash into useful magnesium metal

Overview

Australia

melbourneLatrobe Magnesium Limited ( LMG ) is moving towards building a Magnesium Plant in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.  LMG is investigating using a hydromet process combined with the thermal reduction process.

The plant will use a world first patented extraction process of combined hydromet / thermal reduction to extract the metal. The company intends to harvest magnesium metal from industrial fly ash which is currently a waste product of brown coal power generation. A pre-feasibility study and an adjustment study have been successfully completed and a feasibility study has begun and will be completed in September 2017. Construction of the plant is expected to begin in September 2017, with initial production due a year later.

melbourne-latrobeThe production facility will be located at the heart of Victoria’s coal power generation precinct providing direct and constant access to feedstock. The magnesium plant’s prime location in combination with LMG’s breakthrough technology and efficient materials handling will enable LMG to operate at globally competitive costs.

The Latrobe Valley is home to Victoria’s major power plants: Hazelwood, Yallourn and Loy Yang. These plants account for 85% of Victoria’s power using brown coal. The process results in large quantities of industrial ‘fly ash’ being discarded in waste ponds. Currently the Latrobe Valley contains a 25 million tonnes inventory of fly ash, to which a further 500,000 tonnes of ash is added annually. These numbers will change with the Hazelwood Power Station closure at the end of March 2017

The fly ash in the Latrobe Valley is unusually high in magnesium and LMG has recognised an opportunity to recover magnesium metal and other products from this material.

LMG plans to sell the refined product under long-term contracts to Australian, Japanese and American users.  Currently, Australia imports 100% of the 8,000 tonnes consumed. Under planned expansion of the facility, LMG would sell into the 950,000 tonnes annual global market.

Magnesium has the best strength-to-weight ratio of all common structural metals and is increasingly used in the manufacture of car parts, laptop computers, mobile phones and power tools.  The LMG project is at the forefront of environmental sustainability – by recycling a power plant waste product to extract valuable commodities and low CO2 emitter.

The Latrobe Valley location provides access to a skilled workforce and existing infrastructure.

The LMG plant is expected to produce initially approximately 3,000 tonnes of magnesium metal per year.  After successful commissioning this plant, the plant will be expanded to 40,000 tpa.

Germany

In June 2016, LMG has signed a MoU with RWE Power AG to develop a 30,000 tpa magnesium plant using LMG Hydromet Process.

On 14 January 2013, executives from LMG and RWE Power agreed to progress a concept study to determine the commercial viability of a LMG hydromet process in Europe.  The concept study was completed in March 2014 based on an estimated magnesium production of 40,000 tonnes per annum.  The study concluded that this project was commercially sound and required further development.

LMG has identified one RWE Power brown coal mine near Cologne that it believes has the required MgO grade. Recent hydromet test completed concluded that the beneficiated fly ash produced from the RWE brown coal fly ash was suitable for the extraction of magnesium.

The Cologne mine produces about 40 million wet tonnes of coal per annum. The three mines in the Latrobe Valley produce about 65 million wet tonnes per annum. If the fly ash is suitable, this mine may have the capacity to produce up to 80,000 tonnes of magnesium per annum from its annual tonnages of fly ash.

RWE Power AG is part of the RWE Group in Germany. The RWE Group is a top 20 company listed on the German Stock Exchange (DAX). RWE Power is one of the leading energy production and generation companies in Germany. It uses a broad energy mix of brown coal, black coal, hydro, nuclear power,  natural gas fired power stations and wind farms. RWE Power is also a driver of innovation for coal fired power stations and CO2 avoidance.



This page updated: 07/10/2014