Vanadium is included in the EU Commission’s list of critical raw materials due to concerns around supply.
Billed as a “sustainable” recycling plant, it is proposed to turn steel-slag from Scandinavian steel giant SSAB into high-purity vanadium chemicals used in specialty steels and energy storage solutions.
The low-emission plant would have among “the highest-grade vanadium feedstock sources in the world”, according to the joint venture partners, who are hoping to muscle in on the European vanadium market currently dominated by Russia, China and South Africa.
The duo recently signed a 10-year agreement with SSAB to supply about 2Mt of stockpiled high-grade vanadium-bearing slag from mills in Sweden and Finland, which have vanadium grades of about 4% vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) and 3%, respectively. The recovery facility, set to be located at Pori’s Tahkoluoto port, aims to process 200,000 tonnes of slag per year with production scheduled to kick off by the end of 2024. It will use a “low energy-low emission, hydrometallurgical process to recover vanadium from steel slag”. The Finnish vanadium recovery plant will be powered by renewable energy and use CO2 gas sequestered from local industry.
A recently completed scoping study into the viability of the recovery plant indicated its operating costs would be in the lowest-quartile range. A feasibility study is due to be completed in mid-2022. It is not known how the project will be financed. The companies were not available for comment at the time of writing.
The price of ferro vanadium in Europe rose during 2020 – peaking at over US$30/kg in mid-February – thanks to China’s appetite for vanadium, used in steel production, but has since fallen back to US$24.45/kg. Neometals is Critical Metals’ largest shareholder with a 15.4% holding in the Scandinavia-focused mining company, which is also rolling out the region’s first commercial lithium ion battery recycling facility.