Energy Australia has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to supply fly ash from its coal-fired power plant in Yallourn to a proposed magnesium production plant in the Latrobe Valley. Latrobe Magnesium’s project is a world-first in developing a magnesium production facility from brown coal fly ash and has the potential to produce 3,000 tonnes of magnesium a year.
According to research, magnesium has the best strength-to-weight ratio of all common structural metals and is increasingly used in the manufacture of car parts, laptop computers, mobile phones and power tools. By recycling power plant waste, the plants could also help reduce Australian landfill and carbon emissions. As part of its production, Latrobe Magnesium plans to sell its refined magnesium to Australian, Japanese and US customers.
As it stands, Australia imports 100 percent of the 8,000 tonnes of magnesium it consumes annually. The plant will use Latrobe Magnesium’s patented hydromet extraction process and its own newly developed fast-cycle vertical retort furnace (FCR). The project involves conduct testing of Yallourn fly ash using the company’s hydromet process and Monash University’s ash leaching and precipitation process.
“The MoU with Energy Australia Yallourn removes one of our last hurdles in developing our Latrobe Valley magnesium plant,” said Latrobe Magnesium’s CEO David Paterson. “The results of our FCR test work with CSIRO is where our main focus is now directed. We should have results from our tests by the end of February.”