Apatite production in Malmfälten
The first step in the conversion of mine waste into critical raw materials is to produce an apatite concentrate.
We plan the process in such a way that we recover the tailings sand from the iron ore processing plants before deposition in the tailings ponds. For this reason, we must place the apatite plants directly adjacent to LKAB’s existing iron ore production facilities in Malmfälten.
LKAB’s Circular Industrial Park
The apatite concentrate will be transported via rail to the industrial park located on the coast in Luleå, Sweden, where it will be further processed.
At the apatite is dissolved with hydrochloric acid to create a pure phosphorus product and separate rare earth elements (REE’s). Phosphorus is then processed with ammonia to mineral (phosphate) fertiliser. Hydrochloric acid is regenerated with the aid of sulphuric acid and produces gypsum.
Reduction of CO2 emissions
The planned process use existing material streams and will therefore not entail the opening of a new mine. This will minimise land usage and save energy. Here, considerable reductions in emissions can be realised, though these have not been calculated.
Energy from renewable sources will be used in the processes. Luckily, Northern Sweden is well-positioned, with access to large-scale production of hydro and wind power.
Own production of input materials is the last puzzle piece. This is where much of the savings in terms of carbon-dioxide emissions can be realised.