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:: Leading Edge Materials Initiates Research on Hafnium and Zirconium Extraction from Norra Kärr Rare Earth Element Project, Sweden
Leading Edge Materials Corp. is pleased to provide an update on the first of a range of research projects aimed at capturing added value opportunities for the Norra Kärr rare earth element project in Sweden. A Pre-Feasibility Study completed on Norra Kärr in 2015 ("PFS") identified a range of opportunities to improve project economics while reducing capital expenditure and minimizing the environmental footprint of the project.
Leading Edge Materials has partnered with a research team lead by Prof. Julien Leclaire at the Institut de Chimie et Biochimie Moléculaires et Supramoléculaires in Lyon, France to investigate the extraction and separation of hafnium and zirconium from a process material previously considered to be waste. Prof. Leclaire has worked extensively on highly selective extraction systems that apply carbon dioxide to form reversible extractive agents, with a focus on REEs in both primary and waste materials.
The initial six-month research alliance is partially funded by Leading Edge Materials, which provides the exclusive rights to apply the intellectual property developed within two years of project completion. If research is not ongoing within the two-year period, rights to use the IP shall return to ICBMS.
Prof. Leclaire was identified by Leading Edge Materials as a highly skilled partner in extractive chemistry following publication of REE research, having developed and patented innovative technologies with a low environmental impact. Some this technology was developed through research into carbon capture and valorization.
The Norra Kärr deposit, along with REE and zirconium, is enriched in hafnium with a reserve grade of 338 ppm hafnium oxide (HfO2). Hafnium, named from the Latin for the Scandinavian city of Copenhagen, is a highly valued metal as it is extremely resistant to corrosion, and forms some of the highest melting point alloys known to man. More than 80% of hafnium is used for superalloys, plasma cutting equipment and nuclear control rods, with aerospace and gas turbine technologies forecast to substantially increase demand. Hafnium metal is presently valued at around $1,500 per kg with a total market approaching 100 tonnes per year.
Blair Way, President and CEO, stated, "While additional revenue from the separation of high purity hafnium and zirconium is attractive, we are also motivated to achieve a high degree of resource efficiency at Norra Kärr, through the application of this technology to convert former waste streams to salable products. We look forward to working with Prof. Leclaire on this and other projects where his technology and patents can be applied to the extraction of high value critical raw materials."
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