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ARMZ to Join Project for REE Recovery from Phosphogypsum
Today, United Uranium Enterprises, LLC (UUP, LLC, managed by ARMZ Uranium Holding Co.) and Skygrad Innovations, LLC (a company of Skygrad Group) signed a letter of intent to jointly implement a project for the construction of an industrial enterprise that would recover rare earth elements (REE) from phosphogypsum, a waste by-product of Voskresensk Mineral Fertilizers, JSC.
As part of the roadmap for the Technology of New Materials and Substances adopted by the Russian Federation, ARMZ Uranium Holding Co. is responsible for the Rare Metals and Rare Earth Elements operations. They are needed to meet the national strategic needs and, in particular, to enable military and space technology developments. «They have completed a technical audit of the manufacturing processes and carried out a comprehensive check of the company’s performance and an investment evaluation of the project to prove that the waste treatment plant will be able to annually produce up to 4,000 tons of cerium carbonate, cerium oxide, lanthanum, neodymium, MREE and HREE carbonates,» said Igor Demidov, Chairman of the Board, UUP, LLC. Skygrad Group is largely engaged in the development of the domestic rare earth industry. It has created a unique technique for the extraction separation of REE bulk concentrates into individual rare earth oxides using in-house high-performance equipment, with the industrial pilot launched in Korolev, the Moscow Region, in 2018. «The first lots are tested successfully for quality control and have been sold to the buyers. The work done by the enterprise demonstrates that the technology is competitive and the products satisfy the global requirements in terms of both quality and cost price. Therefore, it was decided to build a large-scale manufacturing plant. In addition to individual LREE oxides, it will produce MREE oxides, including yttrium oxide, europium oxide, samarium oxide, gadolinium oxide, and dysprosium oxide. The enterprise will also manufacture gypsum products and fertilizers,» says Alexey Abramov, Director General, Skygrad Innovations, LLC.
The first stage of the new plant is expected to be launched in 2024. Its processing capacity is to be approximately 1 million tons of phosphogypsum per annum by 2026 — this is as much as Voskresensk Mineral Fertilizers, JSC accumulates every year, and, thus, there would be no more tailings. In the future, this may reduce the nationwide environmental pressure given that the country’s industrial enterprises have accumulated more than 200 million tons of phosphogypsum in their tailing ponds. The recycling of tailings will address the issue of new REE raw materials and will particularly tackle a number of environmental problems related to environmental contamination with harmful impurities of fluorine, phosphorus, strontium, etc.
Ruslan Dimukhamedov, Director for Business Development of ARMZ Uranium Holding Co. and President of the Rare and Rare Earth Metals Producers and Consumers Association, says that the project is to address two issues at once as it will ensure supplies to the domestic market and gain profits. It should be reminded that ARMZ Uranium Holding Co. currently provides funding for the construction of the mining and processing works at the Tuganskoye titanium-zirconium placer deposit, the Tomsk Region, as part of the Russian roadmap for the Technology of New Materials and Substances. Its processing capacity will ensure stable, safe and uninterrupted supply of strategically important concentrates, i.e. zirconium, titanium and rutile-leucoxene concentrates, to satisfy the needs of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation and other major enterprises in Russia.