Evaluation assessments for the construction of a smelter for the production of magnesium from tailings of serpentine rock

The project and its challenges

Alliance Magnesium has developed an innovative technology for the extraction of magnesium, one that is cleaner and cheaper than methods currently used elsewhere around the world. The aim of the project is to produce magnesium from serpentine rock tailings left behind by decades of chrysotile-asbestos mining. The smelter has to be built where the resources, available at a low cost, are located. Since magnesium extraction consumes high levels of energy, the economic viability of the process is greatly dependent on energy costs. Seneca has supported the company by providing the following services :

  • Pre-feasibility studies of the commercial project
  • Feasibility studies of the demonstration plant
  • Process development
  • Laboratory testing of the electrochemical process
  • CAPEX and OPEX estimates (demonstration and commercial plants).

 

CLIENT NAME /

Alliance Magnésium

 

 

PROJECT VALUE /

$600 million

 

 

EXECUTION /

2013 – Ongoing

 

The proposed solution

Proven technologies

Together with Alliance Magnesium, our engineers are planning to use proven technologies, adapted to their needs, to lower the risk perceived by partners. For any remaining uncertainties, Seneca has suggested testing specific parameters at the demonstration plant so as not to jeopardize operations at the commercial plant.

A novel processing technology

To reduce energy consumption, Seneca participated in the development of an innovative purification and electrolysis process for magnesium via electrolytic cells equipped with hydrogen gas diffusion anodes. The chloride-based hydrometallurgy and the hydrogen permeation in the electrolytic cell increase energy efficiency and provide the required purity, while significantly reducing the environmental footprint.

The results

  • Overall strategic planning of the technology’s deployment from the laboratory to the commercial plant (CAPEX and OPEX) achieved with very little data
  • Conversion of laboratory data into a provable technology
  • Process simplification thanks to research and identification of best available technologies.

Seneca’s expertise in process design has reassured our investors thus far. We will be collaborating with Seneca until our commercial plant has been built and beyond, as the team has clearly become an asset for the deployment of our production operations.

Joël Fournier, Ph. D.

President and CEO, Alliance Magnésium

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