Geomega to build alumina waste plant

The plant will recover minerals from this waste
Geomega to build alumina waste plant Geomega to build alumina waste plant Geomega to build alumina waste plant Geomega to build alumina waste plant Geomega to build alumina waste plant

Half of Rio Tinto's global aluminium production comes from Quebec.

Montreal-based Geomega Resources has received funding to build its C$4 million alumina waste processing plant in Quebec.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a government body providing funding to small- and medium-sized businesses, will provide C$1.5 million in funding.

Geomega partner Rio Tinto will provide C$1.2 million in financing. Half of Rio Tinto's global aluminium production comes from Quebec.

Rio Tinto operates an alumina refinery, four smelters, six hydropower plants, its Arvida Research and Development Centre, the Aluminium Operational Centre, a rail network, and one port in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.

The Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation, via Investissement Quebec, has provided C$300,000.

The remaining C$450,000 will be funded by a third-party organisation in the later stages of the project, Geomega said.

The plant, developed by Geomega subsidiary Innord Inc, will take bauxite residue generated from aluminium production, and reduce the volume of red mud by 70% to 90%, STDC chief executive Leah Lawrence said.

The plant will also recover minerals from this waste, she added.

The technology is "aimed at finding new uses for bauxite residue," Rio Tinto's Director of By-Product Valorisation Stephane Poirier said.

"This has the potential to not only reduce the environmental footprint at aluminium production, but to also deliver new sources of materials such as critical minerals needed to support a low-carbon future."

The funds will be put towards the completion of a feasibility study and construction of a pilot plant in Boucherville, Quebec.

Collaborate research work between Innord and Rio Tinto will be led by Dr Pouya Hajjani, Geomega's Chief Technology Officer.

The Innord research team has been working with technical experts from Rio Tinto over the past year to finalise a bench-scale study project, and will now work together on scaling up the project, Hajjani said.

The two-year project "will ultimately form the basis for a techno-economic feasibility study of the process," she said. The study will assess the environmental performance of Innord's technology and assess the marketability of the products, Hajjani said.

The technology is based on Geomega's hydrometallurgical process to recover rare earths. In February, Geomega received provincial funding to test its process on its Montviel rare earths project, also in Quebec.