Two significant projects to “mine” phosphate from secondary resources in Sweden were presented at the Nordic Circular Materials Conference: 21-22 April 2021. In both cases, the projects will extract phosphate from apatite minerals (phosphate rock family) present in tailings of from iron ore mining, either from operating iron production sites or from stocked tailings from closed mines. The apatite is mainly rare earth element substituted fluorapatite, e.g. monazite, low in cadmium and arsenic, and the extraction of the rare earths with the phosphate will enable economic viability.
Ulrika Håkansson, LKAB, presented the company’s project treating ore tailings from iron mines in Kiruna and Malmberget. LKAB’s objective is to be operational by 2027, producing c. 50 000 tP/year (five times Sweden’s mineral P fertiliser consumption), as apatite concentrate, and c. 30% of EU rare earth needs.
Christer Lindqvist presented the Grängesberg Apatite Recovery Project, which aims to recover apatite from stocked tailings of the Grangesberg iron mine (John Matts dam), which was the world’s biggest iron ore producer in the nineteenth century. The following rare earth elements will be produced: Y, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Tb, Eu. Production will be around 13 000 tP/y, with the aim of starting within 3-4 years. The stocked tailings will support around seven years production, and this may be extended with a project to re-open the iron ore mine
Slides from Nordic Circular Materials Conference
LKAB secondary P-mining project: www.ree-map.com
Grängesberg Exploration Holding AB https://grangesbergexploration.se/