THE TECHNOLOGY

EcoMag’s technology originated in Australia with our Technology Director, Professor Tam Tran

EcoMag’s Process

…while he was Director of the Centre for Minerals Engineering at the University of New South Wales. The technology was further developed and patented by Chonnam National University (CNU) in Korea. EcoMag holds an exclusive license to commercialise the technology for the purpose of recovering magnesium from the brine discarded during a large-scale salt production process and to produce hydrated magnesium carbonate (HMC), high grade magnesium oxide (MgO) and other magnesium compounds.

Western Australia’s Pilbara region offers massive magnesium resources

Sea water is pumped through a series of ponds, where it is concentrated into brine using solar energy. The salt is then harvested, 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 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 in a pilot plant in Korea and on-site in Dampier.

EcoMag testing has confirmed that our technology can recover high purity magnesium compounds from Pilbara bitterns. The process was optimised at a 300 litre scale in Korea (in collaboration with Korea Chemicals Corp) and at Dampier.

The technology is currently being evaluated for making a wide range of Mg chemicals within a $US 10 million research program. The World Class 300 R&D program is supported by Korea Chemical Corp, Chonnam National University, EcoMag and the government of Korea.

Another version of the technology separates magnesium and calcium from purified manganese solutions produced from iron-manganese smelter wastes. This version was demonstrated continuously for 6 months in 2012, at 60 kg/day by Dong Bu Metals in Korea to produce high purity manganese sulphate used in lithium ion battery manufacturing.

EcoMag’s waste stream is cleaner than the untreated waste stream.

The residual magnesium content is similar to the level found in sea water and the whole process produces substantially less carbon dioxide than alternate magnesium production methods. Refer to THE ENVIRONMENT for more detail.

EcoMag will build a plant to process 500 megalitres per annum of bitterns to service the strong and growing market for high purity magnesium products.