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South Korea pushes for recycling of rare metals

Tungsten rods with evaporated crystals. (Reference image by Alchemist-hp, Wikimedia Commons).

A new international initiative is promoting the recycling of rare metals such as tungsten and molybdenum using scrap resources and tungsten concentrates downstream to nano tungsten oxide and other products.

The project is led by Canada’s Almonty Industries (TSE: AII), the Korean Mine Rehabilitation and Resource Corporation and Hannae For T, and its goal is to strengthen South Korea’s domestic supply chain in the semiconductor and battery sectors.

“Security of supply by global leading economies of strategic and rare metals such as tungsten has been a theme that has grown in importance over recent years,” Almonty’s president and CEO, Lewis Black, said in a media statement.

“More than 83% of the supply of tungsten is produced by China,” Black said. “Once our flagship Sangdong tungsten mine is in production from late 2022/early 2023, it will be the largest tungsten mine outside of China. Given South Korea is the largest per capita user of tungsten globally, it is no surprise that KOMIR, the Korean Government Agency responsible for national resource security, and other global leading companies, such as Hannae are keen to work with Almonty.”

Black explained that Hannae is one of the global leaders in rare metal recycling and has developed proprietary technology to extract vanadium and titanium, in addition to tungsten, from wasted SCR catalysts. 

To advance the rare metal recycling initiative, the three entities have signed a memorandum of understanding that commits them to jointly, in good faith, investigate and undertake a feasibility study on the project.
 
The MOU will remain in effect for two years and can be extended by agreement between the parties before the expiration. 

Focus on tungsten

Besides taking part in the recycling program, Almonty processes and ships tungsten concentrate from its Los Santos mine in western Spain and Panasqueira mine in Portugal.

In South Korea’s Gangwon province, the company is developing the Sangdong mine, which hosts one of the largest tungsten resources in the world.

According to the miner, the deposit has the potential to produce 50% of the world’s Tungsten supply (ex-China output).

Related: Diversifying the tungsten supply chain