01 Feb 2024

Revolutionising recycling: JGI-HYDROMETAL innovative solutions for non-ferrous metals

What is the goal of the JGI-HYDROMETAL group in the context of the REEPRODUCE project?

JGI-HYDROMETAL aims at upgrading its expertise in the recycling of rare earths from waste and by-products. This know-how has been gained since 2010 when the company expanded its business lines to the recycling of these critical metals from polishing sludges and magnet swarf. The company decided to partner with R&I entities in this project to develop innovative solutions that tackle the complex chemistry of the incoming wave of permanents magnets extracted from a variety of EOL products.

TECNALIA has been optimising its innovative Advanced Hydrometallurgy (AHM) technology to extract and recover rare earths. How is JGI-HYDROMETAL going to step forward?

Given our role as operators and validators of the AHM pilot, JGI-HYDROMETAL has been using its expertise in industrial recycling of non-ferrous metals to guide the R&D phase of the AHM technology as well as the engineering of the AHM pilot.

Can you briefly explain the process to recover rare earths from end-of-life Nd-based permanent magnets to yield high-quality REEs-oxides?

In a general perspective, the AHM technology is based on hydrometallurgy in acidic medium to dissolve the rare earths (together with impurities), followed by purifications and conversion steps to finally recover the target as a mixture in oxide form.

What are your reflections on the outcomes, and how do you see their significance for your role within the project?

The role of JGI-HYDROMETAL in the project, i.e., the demonstration of the successful extraction and recovery of rare earths from end-of-life permanents magnets (by the AHM technology) is significant to take a leading role in unlocking businesses in the rare earths recycling value chain, connecting WEEE collectors and recyclers (managing magnets) with downstream rare earths refiners, producers, and rare earths-intensive products.

What are your ambitions in contributing to stimulating a more sustainable European raw material value chain?

JGI-HYDROMETAL has been committed to leading the non-ferrous metals industry towards sustainable development. In the case of rare earths, the company sees this ambition through its contribution to reducing the loss of these metals in waste streams (such as in European EoL products bearing permanent magnets) as well as in unlocking and controlling the access of these critical metals from European secondary sources.