Zirconium, titanium, rare earths refining technology funded by Korea

Zirconium. (Image by Hi-Res Images of Chemical Elements, Wikimedia Commons).

Australian Strategic Materials announced that its Korean partner,  Zirconium Technology Corporation, was awarded  $4.5 million in grants by the Korean government to be used in the development of the companies’ joint venture.

The grants were awarded as part of the Korean Government’s $5 billion Industrial Technological Program, which seeks to establish clean metal supply independence

The funding is to be directed to ASM and ZironTech’s project to develop a low-emission, high-purity metal refining technology that can be applied to zirconium, titanium and rare earths for permanent magnet alloys. 

In a press release, the firms involved in the initiative said that the technology is intended to replace conventional energy-intensive metallisation processes with a more environmentally friendly, sustainable and cost-effective alternative. 

“We are pleased that both ASM and the technology we are developing in partnership with ZironTech has been recognised by the Korean Government as critical in its journey to ensuring sovereign supply for critical materials,” Australian Strategic Materials’ managing director, David Woodall, said in the media brief.

“The technology to produce critical metals adds value to our project and is key to the growth of Korea’s and Australia’s new technology and manufacturing sectors, with the strong government focus on increasing domestic production to secure supply stability.” 

Woodall said that the JV between ASM and ZironTech is finalizing the commissioning of its commercial pilot plant facility to produce these high-purity metals in parallel with developing the design for the world’s first commercial-scale metal plant. 

“This will help meet the growing demand for a new source into domestic and global markets for ASM’s range of high-purity and value-added critical metals – including zirconium, rare earth magnet metals (praseodymium and neodymium), niobium, and hafnium,” the executive said.