(Reuters) – The European Union has targeted magnesium as a priority critical mineral to reduce dependence on China and three companies are preparing to produce it in Europe for the first time since 2001.
Below are facts about magnesium and the three potential projects.
Magnesium is a very light, lustrous gray metal that provides strength as an ingredient in aluminum and steel alloys used in aluminum cans, car wheels, and airplane wings.
The mineral is abundant in the earth’s crust and can also be produced from seawater, but smelting is more complicated and very energy intensive.
China dominates production, accounting for 88% of global supply. The other producers are Brazil, Russia and the United States.
Europe accounts for around 20% of global magnesium demand, or around 200,000 tonnes per year, but the last European magnesium production sites – in Norway and France – closed in 2001.
Magnesium prices in China hit record highs last year and are still double the level seen 12 months ago.
The EU-funded organization EIT Raw Materials has identified three potential projects that could enable a restart of magnesium production in Europe, two in Romania and one in Bosnia.
GREEN MAGNESIUM https://www.verdemg.com
Verde is working on the revitalization of an old mine in western Romania and plans to build an integrated processing plant. The company, backed by private equity group Amerocap, is applying for a mining license from the government and hopes to start production in 2025.
“Verde Magnesium aims to offer a steady supply of processed magnesium from Romania amounting to around 30,000 tonnes per year – or 15% of EU demand – by 2030,” said Chairman Bernd Martens. .
The company aims to process waste from a former state-owned chemical site in central Romania to extract magnesium and other minerals. The company did not respond to inquiries, but EIT Raw Materials said the company was conducting feasibility studies for operations that could produce 22,000 tonnes of magnesium per year.
Project owners declined to be identified, but EIT Raw Materials said the company plans to build a mine and processing facility that could initially produce 15,000 tonnes of magnesium per year, with potential to expand to 50,000 tons.
(Reporting by Eric Onstad; editing by Barbara Lewis)