28/03/2022 – Minerals / Processing / Vanadium / Facility / Finland / Europe / EIT RawMaterials / Metals / Neometals

New plant in Finland to give major boost to Europe’s vanadium production and save up to 1.5Mt of CO2 in a decade
New plant in Finland to give major boost to Europe’s vanadium production and save up to 1.5Mt of CO2 in a decade

A new mineral processing facility in Finland is expected to significantly boost vanadium production in Europe, and could save up to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 over the next 10 years in comparison to what would have been generated via conventional mining practices. 

The EIT RawMaterials supported joint venture in Finland between two Australian project development companies – Critical Metals Ltd and Neometals Ltd – paves the way for a significant increase in high-purity vanadium production in Europe for use in grid-scale vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs), speciality steel applications, and next generation lithium vanadium cells. 

Furthermore, the Vanadium Recovery Project (VRP) is targeting a 1.5 million tonne reduction of CO2 reporting to the atmosphere over 10 years compared to conventional mining. The VRP won't have any waste streams and will set a new precedent for circular economy practices in metals processing.

Setting a new circular economy precedent in metals processing

Set to be located in Pori, Finland, the VRP will receive 'slag' from local steel producers and recover some of the highest purity vanadium products in the world. This positions Critical Metals and Neometals on the cusp of becoming a major producer of vanadium in Europe late in 2024. The VRP relies on a novel proprietary hydrometallurgical process that results in no waste, given the plan for by-products to be used in the production of CO2-free cement.

Vanadium is a critical raw material according to the European Commission and features superior energy density compared to other battery materials. It is fast becoming recognised as a significant addition to new lithium-ion cathode and anode chemistries used in electric vehicles, as well as in VRFBs used for long duration energy storage solutions from renewable sources. Currently, approximately 75 per cent of global vanadium supply is sourced from China, South Africa, and Russia.

With heightened pressure to diversify the source of critical raw materials, the VRP positively demonstrates Europe's commitment to secure its raw material supply chains and fast track energy dependence from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

“In the next 10 years, vanadium will be the 'new lithium'”

"Innovative projects like the Vanadium Recovery Project in Pori, Finland, show how circular economy approaches can have a substantial impact on diversifying supply chains,” advised Olli Salmi, Innovation Hub Baltic Sea Director at EIT RawMaterials. “Recovery of metals and minerals from by-products in an environmentally friendly manner will be a very important source of raw materials for Europe, complementing sustainable mining projects. Therefore, we are excited to work with Critical Metals Ltd and Neometals Ltd on assessing funding opportunities as this project enters the next phase."

He added that securing raw materials for Europe requires innovation and close collaboration with countries and regions that share our environmental and ethical standards. “EIT RawMaterials working with Australian firms, Neometals Ltd and Critical Metals Ltd on a vital processing facility in Finland demonstrates EIT RawMaterials' commitment to working with different countries to diversify Europe's raw materials supply."

Darren Townsend, Chief Development Officer at Neometals, remarked: “We believe that in the next 10 years vanadium will be the 'new lithium'. We see a lot of parallels on where the vanadium industry is now, versus where the lithium industry was 10 years ago. We are happy that EIT RawMaterials agrees with this assessment and continues to support us in driving this project rapidly forward."

Latest issue – Vol 2/22
Lead stories
– Energy focus
– Gastech 2022
– H2 storage caverns for green steel 
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