LKAB Invests in Raw Material Recycling and Climate-Friendly Steel Production

by | 17. May 2023 - 11:31 | Economy

Swedish mining company applies to build two plants.

The Swedish state-owned mining company LKAB wants to build a recycling plant for critical raw materials and a demonstration plant for the production of climate-friendly steel. The company sees this as a crucial step in reducing emissions in the global iron and steel industry and securing critical raw materials for the energy transition. The proposed site is near Gällivare, northern Sweden, a permit application was submitted to the Land and Environmental Court on Monday, according to the press release.

The recycling plant will recover critical raw materials from waste that is currently landfilled. These residues will first be used to produce an apatite concentrate (apatite refers to a group of minerals), which will, in turn, be utilized to separate phosphorus for fertilizer production and rare earths for applications such as electric vehicles and wind turbines.

Mining and Mining Waste as Sources of Raw Materials

Earlier this year, LKAB made global headlines with news of an immense rare earths find in Kiruna, northern Sweden (we reported). However, it could be many years before the raw materials are able to be commercially extracted, according to LKAB CEO Jan Moström. The mining company is therefore also investing in new technologies for extracting raw materials from mining waste, as well as in the further processing of rare earths, an area that is heavily dominated by China.

LKAB is also planning a demonstration plant for HYBRIT, a new, sustainable manufacturing process for steel. This involves replacing coal-based blast furnaces with direct hydrogen-based reduction technology. In addition to LKAB, the energy group Vattenfall and the steel producer SSAB are involved in the project. The pilot plant in Luleå has already produced 2,000 tons of fossil-free steel, and customers include carmaker Volvo (we reported). The demonstration plant is now supposed to show that the HYBRIT technology is viable on an industrial scale.

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