The technology originated in Australia with EcoMag’s Chief Technology Officer, Professor Tam Tran
…while he was Director of the Centre for Minerals Engineering at the University of New South Wales. The technology was further developed at Chonnam National University (CNU) in South Korea. EcoMag holds an exclusive license to commercialise the technology for the purpose of recovering magnesium from bitterns to produce hydrated magnesium carbonate (HMC).
Western Australia’s Pilbara region offers massive magnesium resources.
In sea-salt production, ocean water is pumped through a series of ponds, where it is concentrated into brine using solar energy. Salt is then collected, washed, dried and transported. The resulting waste stream is called a bittern. Bittern streams from one plant alone in the Pilbara contain an estimated 165,000 tonnes per year of magnesium, equivalent to more than 600,000 tonnes per year of HMC or over 250,000 tonnes per year of magnesium oxide (MgO). Major salt producers in WA include Dampier Salt Ltd (at Dampier, Port Hedland and Lake MacLeod) and Mitsui (at Onslow and Shark Bay). A number of subterranean potash resources also contain high levels of Mg in their brines (e.g. Kalium Lakes Ltd, and Australian Potash Ltd.).
Our technology has been demonstrated at scale in pilot plants in Korea and on-site in Dampier.
These pilot plants have confirmed that the technology can recover high purity magnesium compounds from Pilbara bitterns at a 300 litre scale, both in Korea (in collaboration with Korea Chemicals Corp) and at Dampier. This represents a scale-up factor of 300 times the typical 1 litre scale lab testing previously conducted.
The EcoMag process produces substantially less carbon dioxide than alternate magnesium production methods, and the bitterns EcoMag returns to the ocean much more closely match the composition of seawater than the unharvested bitterns. (Refer to Sustainability & the Environment for more detail.)