LKAB chooses Luleå for the circular industrial park for phosphorus and rare earth elements
By-products from iron ore mining will be extracted via innovative circular and fossil-free processes.LKAB can increase Europe's self-sufficiency in the critical raw materials phosphorus and rare earth elements that are needed for sustainable agriculture and the green transitionLKAB is now initiating consultation on the establishment, which will be operational in 2027 and can entail investments amounting to as much as 10 billion kronor and create more than 500 jobs.
“LKAB is leading the transformation of the iron and steel industry with the transition to carbon-dioxide-free sponge iron. We will now broaden our business by extracting phosphorus and rare earth elements as residual products from iron ore production and increase Europe’s self-sufficiency in these critical raw materials,” explains Jan Moström, LKAB’s President and CEO.
Initially, apatite concentrate will be extracted in Kiruna and Gällivare/Malmberget. The concentrate will then be hauled by rail to the industrial park in Luleå, where it will be dissolved and processed to separate the products phosphorus, rare earth elements and fluorine, as well as gypsum as a by-product.
“We have assessed several locations in Sweden and Norway for the site of the circular industrial park. Luleå has good logistics, sufficient land, electricity, lower costs, a good labour market and housing and, not least, synergies with our existing operations. We are now initiating consultation and inviting the public and important stakeholders to meetings in preparation for our coming permit applications,” explains Leif Boström, Senior Vice President, Business Area Special Products, LKAB.
LKAB is, however, leaving the door open for the other operating locations, since a future volume increase in production may necessitate expansion at other sites. All focus is now on the development of the industrial park in Luleå.
“LKAB is important for Luleå and Luleå is important for LKAB. We have been active here for more than a century and we have close collaboration with, for example, SSAB and Luleå University of Technology. And we already have more than 220 employees and our head office, R&D and shipping facilities, as well as stockpiles and production of additives in Luleå,” says Leif Boström.
Norrbotten and Luleå have attracted global attention as a centre for the green transition. A lot will be happening in the region, which presents both opportunities and challenges.
“We have good co-operation with the Municipality of Luleå and the County Administrative Board of Norrbotten, both of which are acting to create the prerequisites for the green transition and new industrialisation. This has to do with attractiveness, permitting issues and infrastructure, for example, and it is a task that has only just begun and must accelerate,” adds Jan Moström.
For Luleå, LKAB’s planned industrial park means important development for local business. In addition to major investment and up to 500 new jobs, a whole new industrial cluster for chemical engineering will be created.
“Fantastic news! LKAB’s investment means many new jobs in an exciting future industry and that we can further strengthen Luleå as a hub for the green transition,” says municipal executive board chair Carina Sammeli (S).
Consultation on the industrial park
LKAB invites the public to participate in consultation and wishes to give local residents and other stakeholders the opportunity to voice their views via a digital portal that will be open as of May 6th. www.lkab.com/samrad
Public meetings will be held May18th and 19th in Luleå.
Contact and more information
David Högnelid, Chief Strategy Officer, Business Area Special Products, LKAB, email@example.com, +46 920 – 381 72
Anders Lindberg, Group Media Relations Manager, LKAB, firstname.lastname@example.org, +46 72 7178355
Background on LKAB’s planned recovery of phosphorus and rare earth elements
- LKAB can be a significant producer of critical raw materials that are circular and climate-efficient, from a controlled European source:
- Phosphorus corresponding to 5 times Sweden’s demand – 400,000 tonnes apatite concentrate (which is upgraded to phosphoric acid and MAP/DAP mineral fertiliser products)
- Rare Earth Elements, REE, corresponding to 30% of today’s imports of REE into the EU – 2000 tonnes
- Fluorine products for, e.g., the chemicals industry and medical applications – 16,000 tonnes
- Gypsum corresponding to Sweden’s entire current demand – 650,000 tonnes
- Today Europe is dependent on imports of critical raw materials.
- 90 percent of the demand for phosphorus is met by imports, with more than a quarter of it coming from Russia.
- 98 percent of the supply of rare earth metals is now imported from China.
- LKAB has potential to increase production of phosphorus (and rare earth elements), for example, by mining the Per Geijer orebody, which contains up to eight times as much phosphorus compared to the orebodies currently mined by LKAB. This presents the potential to replace all of Europe’s imports of phosphorus ore from Russia.
It starts in the mine
- Tailings, a residual product from iron ore production, contains among other substances the mineral apatite, which will be extracted in the form of an apatite concentrate in Kiruna and Malmberget.
- The apatite concentrate contains phosphorus, rare earth elements and fluorine, which will be separated and upgraded at the industrial park in Luleå.
Innovation for circular production at the industrial park in Luleå
- Processing at the industrial park is via wet chemical processes whereby the material is dissolved and separated.
- Use of hydrogen and electrified processes means that conventional fossil-based processes will be fossil-free.
- LKAB plans its own production of additives:
- Circular sulphuric acid with pyrite concentrate from Boliden.
- Hydrogen gas is produced via electrolysis of water using fossil-free electricity. The hydrogen gas is then used in the production of green (fossil-free) ammonia,
- Green ammonia is used to process phosphoric acid for ammonium phosphates (MAP/DAP) for mineral fertiliser products.
- Ammonia can also be used for production of ammonium nitrate, which LKAB can use in its own explosives production in Kiruna.
- Hydrogen gas can also be used in a reduction plant for sponge iron.
David Högnelid, Chief Strategy Officer, Business Area Special Products
Phone: +46 (0)920 381 72
LKAB is an international mining and minerals group that offers sustainable iron ore, minerals and special products. We are committed to developing carbon-free processes and products by 2045, leading the transformation of the iron and steel industry. Since 1890 we have developed through unique innovations and technological solutions and are driven forward by more than 4,500 employees in 12 countries. In 2021, the LKAB group had sales of about SEK 49 billion. www.lkab.com