Alliance Magnesium collaborates openly with the community and various stakeholders. The numerous communication methods used make it possible to interact with the greatest possible number of people. Here is a comprehensive list of questions and answers. For any other questions, please contact us.
Alliance Magnesium has developed and patented an innovative technology to manufacture magnesium metal ingots from serpentine tailings. Its approach to repurposing tailings is a sea change from the methods used by magnesium producers worldwide. Alliance Magnesium’s business plan also includes recycling magnesium scrap from the metal processing industry to make high value-added magnesium.
The company manufactures magnesium metal ingots, which it mainly sells to automotive parts manufacturers as well as the aluminum, iron and aerospace industries.
The business plan involves producing magnesium from both tailings and magnesium scrap recovered from the processing industry.
In addition to magnesium oxide, they contain the following elements: Silica oxide, iron, alumina, calcium oxide, nickel, chromium, potassium oxide, manganese oxide, titanium oxide (source: NI 43-101).
Just like the word metal covers a wide variety of substances, such as iron, copper and lead, the word asbestos is an umbrella term for no less than six different varieties of ore, each with different physical and chemical properties and a distinct toxicity potential.
When asbestos was mined in Quebec, the most common variety of asbestos found in deposits and extracted for sale was chrysotile. This fibre is found in a type of rock called serpentine. There are actually two families of asbestos: the serpentine family and the amphibole family. Chrysotile is a member of the serpentine family.
Once the marketable fibres were removed, all that was left were piles of tailings. These piles are the mounds created by the accumulation of tailings over several decades. These are commonly referred to as serpentine piles when talking about tailings piles.
Primary magnesium is the metal produced from raw material, which in the case of Alliance Magnesium is tailings containing 25% magnesium. Secondary magnesium is the metal produced by recycling.
The company owns 481 ha of land (source: Town of Asbestos records). This makes up about 20% of the land in the municipality of Asbestos. By way of comparison, it’s almost 5 km2, or twice the size of Central Park in New York City. The industrial part takes up 218 ha, while the raw material reserve is 263 ha.
Alliance Magnesium owns over 50 million m³ of tailings (serpentine) accumulated over years of chrysotile extraction. (Source: 43-101). This could fill 20,000 Olympic swimming pools (2,500 m³ per pool).
There are over 100 million tonnes of serpentine on the company’s site. The part of the deposit that was evaluated in a major Geocon study to characterize the grade and content of serpentine piles contains more than 59 million tonnes of serpentine. The total deposit is therefore estimated to be over 100 million tonnes, taking into account the proportion of the characterized part in relation to the total deposit.
6 t of tailings = 1 t of magnesium metal
Alliance Magnesium owns its own raw material. Depending on annual production, the company could have enough for more than 100 years.
Alliance Magnesium is an industrial metallurgy company, which is similar to an aluminum producer. It must comply with the laws and regulations of the various levels of government, as well as obtain a certificate of authorization for its operations.
Alliance Magnesium is not a mining company. However, since it does work with mine tailings, it has voluntarily set up mining company contingencies to facilitate stakeholder understanding of its activities. It has therefore produced the documentation required by the mining industry. An NI 43-101 document has been completed by independent firms. It is used, among other things, to characterize the raw material (serpentine). This document is privately owned but must be made public once a company is listed on the stock exchange.
Alliance Magnesium is a responsible investment that will contribute to redefining industry standards through exemplary leadership. The process Alliance Material has developed and implemented is considered unique, as is its raw material site. The world’s most responsible magnesium is produced here in Danville. In addition, the business model centres on the economic development of an exceptional industrial site that was abandoned. Alliance Magnesium is devoted to sustainable development, never compromising on environmental and social licence issues.
Its circular economy approach gives it an undeniable advantage over the competition on the market. The company’s goal is to convert tailings into a metal with great potential and high added value in addition to processing the by-products generated by its production. For example, silica (40% of the tailings) will be kept and sold to the concrete industry and other buyers. Opportunities also exist for other materials such as iron, nickel and cobalt.
Alliance Magnesium has developed the cleanest technology on the magnesium market, which will contribute to a major reduction in greenhouse gases. The use of hydroelectricity for the majority of its operations also sets it apart from many of its competitors in terms of energy consumption. This makes Alliance Magnesium a real agent of change and a Quebec model to develop and support to ensure strong leadership and innovation nationally and abroad.
- Processing tailings and recovering recycled magnesium
- Environmental remediation: complete asbestos removal
- Green technology
- Repurposing waste (by-products)
- Light metal that’s good for the environment
- Electrification of transportation
- Greenhouse gas reduction
It’s true that the two companies share an objective: to produce magnesium from serpentine, from the same place and with the same raw material. The similarities end there. The Magnola plant was closed in 2003 and dismantled in 2007. In 2012, Alliance Magnesium leased the remaining facilities and land that were still in Magnola Metallurgy’s name. Then, in 2017, Alliance Magnesium officially acquired the land. This transaction made the company owner of the Magnola industrial site and the lands on which most of the fine tailings piles produced by the Jeffrey Mine and its predecessors are located. The brand new Alliance Magnesium plant will be built on this site. The company Magnola Metallurgy no longer exists. Alliance Magnesium has no connection whatsoever to any reports, results, studies, potential exceedance, fines, etc. related to Magnola Metallurgy. No link can be made between the two companies since they don’t use the same processes.
In 2020, magnesium production is mainly concentrated in China using an archaic and polluting process. This process is no longer acceptable both economically and environmentally. Moreover, the current market has clearly changed since the 2000s when Magnola and Norsk-Hydro existed. Demand was 300,000 t in 2000, whereas it was 1.3 million t in 2020. Strong growth and the need for magnesium for the transportation market make all the difference.
In addition, when Magnola was operating, China exported almost all of its magnesium production, whereas it now processes it directly itself. High magnesium prices as a result of increasing demand and limited supply from China are having a negative impact. This impact is felt by, among others, western automobile manufacturers and the aeronautics industry, which are struggling to meet their needs. In addition, the magnesium industry outside China has shrunk since the 2000s and can now barely keep pace with demand, which is rising sharply.
The process used by Alliance Magnesium was not used by Magnola 20 years ago. Among other differences, there is no superchlorinator (patented and invented by Magnola, which failed to meet its intended objectives) at the electrolysis stage of the process. Magnola owned 24 of them for 24 electrolysis cells. Another difference is that Alliance Magnesium will have six cells and use different technology than Magnola. In addition, 20 years ago a gas called SF6 was used, which Alliance Magnesium replaced with a safe substance. Also, the majority of energy used at Alliance Magnesium comes from hydroelectricity. In addition to producing magnesium from mine tailings, Alliance Magnesium will also produce recycled magnesium, unlike Magnola. Magnola aimed to produce 63,000 t of primary magnesium, whereas Alliance Magnesium plans to produce 35,000 t of primary magnesium plus enough secondary (recycled) magnesium for the plant to reach 50,000 t in production in phase 2.
The process developed for Alliance Magnesium has been patented around the world. Alliance Magnesium has retained some of Magnola’s processes that worked well, such as those for preparing ore. However, it uses a different proven technology for electrolysis.
You have to be very careful: this isn’t the old Magnola.
- This is not another version of Magnola.
- Although Alliance Magnesium now owns former Magnola land, the process is not the same.
- It’s important to rigorously and clearly establish the fact that Alliance Magnesium does not use the same technologies, quantities, processes, etc. as Magnola and therefore the two cannot be equated.
- The kinds of investment that Alliance Magnesium is receiving makes this clear: partners are joining in the project via their climate change funds, etc.
All the necessary partners have been mobilized and financing of $145 million for the commercial demonstration phase was announced in March 2020.
Alliance Magnesium Inc. is a privately owned Quebec company. Its head office is located in Danville, Quebec. Its partners include the federal and provincial governments, Quebec business people, Fondaction and Marubeni, one of the largest corporations in the world.
Because of the nature of its mission, Alliance Magnesium benefits from the support of the various levels of government. Funding is approached in different ways depending on the deployment of the project.
Governments are often more present during the development stages, which included pilot phase, a lot of research and innovation. Investment in Alliance Magnesium was 50% from the private sector and 50% from the public sector for this phase.
For the commercial demonstration plant phase, 70.7% of the funding comes from private sources including Quebec business people and various companies, while governments participate through loans and equity investments at 29.3%.
Marubeni, one of the world’s largest companies in terms of annual revenue (over $70 billion), handles products and provides services worldwide. It’s a very diverse group.
Merrell and Asics footwear, Komatsu heavy machinery equipment, agricultural products, paper mills and the energy industry are just a few examples of Marubeni’s areas of activity. In addition, the company already invests in certain companies in Canada as well as Quebec such as Aluminerie Alouette.
Alliance Magnesium was chosen by Marubeni as an investment in its green and light metals business.
Fondaction is associated with the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN). This labour-sponsored fund stands out for its investments that aim to support, promote and encourage sustainable development. It manages $2.4 billion in assets from retirement savings collected from more than 175,000 shareholders. Fondaction supports the development of more than 1,200 SMEs, including several social economy companies. Fondaction also helps maintain and create jobs, reduce inequalities and fight climate change. Between 2015 and 2018, the fund reduced the carbon footprint of its stock market investments by 51%.
Construction of the commercial demonstration phase will begin by summer 2020. Detailed engineering is in the final phase: a crucial step before construction. The casting centre, for which equipment has arrived, will be erected first, making it possible to start melting recycled metal while continuing the rest of the plant’s construction.
After about one year from the start of construction, the casting centre will be ready for operation while construction continues on the rest of the plant for about another year.
Development consists of three phases, which are necessary for the success of the project’s commercial operations.
The first phase is the pilot phase, which involves setting up a continuously operating plant to optimize operating conditions. The pilot plant was a great success, producing over 1 t of magnesium.
The first real phase, phase 1, is the commercial demonstration phase. The goal is to produce 11,700 t (possibly 18,000) of magnesium per year, nearly half being recycled magnesium. This is a profitable phase that allows Alliance Magnesium to be present on the market as early as 2021. Magnesium production will also be used to negotiate operating agreements with the main users of magnesium, particularly in the automotive industry. Construction of the commercial demonstration plant will take place over two years.
The next stage, Phase 2, consists of the construction of a full-scale plant with a production capacity of 50,000 t of magnesium per year.
During the pilot project, Alliance Magnesium aimed to demonstrate feasibility without large-scale production. Phase 1 allows for the production of magnesium and makes it possible to hit the market. On the technical side, it will demonstrate potential, secure clients, start adapting to the market on a large scale and begin the process for the full-capacity plant. This is the business model promoted by Alliance Magnesium to deploy the company in a progressive, efficient and compelling manner.
Yes, Alliance Magnesium has received support from the Direction de la santé publique [Public Health Directorate] to begin production. In addition, the standards applied and contained in the environmental certificate of authorization obtained by Alliance Magnesium from Quebec’s Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques [Ministry of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change] are all respected.
Alliance Magnesium chooses to participate in initiatives during industrial tours, with the Town of Asbestos on the industrial park open house day, for example. The public is welcome to join in on these activities. In addition, it regularly meets with groups of investors, neighbouring RCMs and partners. However, during the two-year construction period, tours will be kept to a minimum to avoid the risk of accidents due to heavy traffic on the site.
Alliance Magnesium is proud of its efforts to include recycling in its business plan in order to produce safe and sustainable magnesium in accordance with its values. This magnesium is a solution in the fight against climate change because of its low carbon footprint compared to other metals, and to magnesium produced elsewhere in the world. In order to combine the company’s potential with its philosophy of sustainable development, Alliance Magnesium found that incorporating the circular economy concept into part of its process was only natural. Magnesium is increasingly used in alloys, which make an ideal contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions during the lifetime of vehicles, while reducing weight and improving performance. Alliance Magnesium diverts scrap metal created during alloy manufacturing from ending up in landfills.
Magnesium, also known by its chemical symbol Mg, is the eighth most common metal, accounting for 2.1% of the Earth’s surface.
Magnesium is a metal that is not found in its elemental form in nature, but rather in different natural mineral forms (dolomite, magnesite, carnallite, serpentine) and in seawater and brines.
Magnesium is an essential element for plant and animal life. Chlorophyll is the chemical that allows plants to capture sunlight and photosynthesis to take place. Chlorophyll consists of a porphyrin ring with a magnesium ion at its centre. Without magnesium, photosynthesis could not take place, and life as we know it would not exist.
In humans, magnesium is essential for the functioning of hundreds of enzymes. Humans absorb between 250 and 350 milligrams of magnesium each day. We each store about 20 grams in our bodies, mainly in the bones.
Remember your periodic table in science class? 😉
Atomic symbol: Mg
Atomic number: 12
Element category: Alkali metal
Density: 1.738 g/cm³ (at 20 °C)
Melting point: 1,202 °F (650 °C)
Boiling point: 1,994 °F (1090 °C)
Mohs hardness: 2.5
As a metal, magnesium is silvery-white in colour and tarnishes slightly when exposed to air.
Magnesium was discovered as a single element in 1808 by Sir Humphrey Davy, but was not produced in metallic form until 1831 when Antoine Bussy made magnesium using dehydrated magnesium chloride in an experiment.
Commercial production of electrolytic magnesium began in Germany in 1886. That country remained the sole producer until 1916, when military demand for magnesium (for flares and tracer bullets) led to production in the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada and Russia.
Global magnesium production fell between the wars, although Germany continued to produce it to support Nazi military expansion. Germany produced 20,000 tonnes in 1938, which represented 60% of global production.
To catch up, the United States set up 15 new magnesium production facilities, reaching a production capacity of over 265,000 tonnes of magnesium by 1943.
After World War II, magnesium production declined again as producers struggled to find cost-effective methods of extracting the metal to compete with the price of aluminum.
The raw material used is serpentine. The process developed by Alliance Magnesium is a hydrometallurgical process combined with an electrolytic process. It uses the best technology, combining elements that are already tried and tested in other industries. It also introduces a technological innovation in the electrolysis cell, which reduces energy costs.
The Alliance Magnesium plant will produce magnesium ingots based on an electrolytic process developed by Dr. Joël Fournier and using recycled magnesium. The raw material used is serpentine, recovered from the waste piles located on the company’s land. The process has been patented and is recognized in more than five patent families worldwide.
This process consists of five steps:
- Preparation of the raw material;
- Acid leaching and purification;
- Brine dehydration and drying;
Magnesium is one of the lightest structural metals: 33% lighter than aluminum and 70% lighter than steel.
Thanks to its crystal structure, magnesium has an excellent ability to reduce vibration transmission. That means that magnesium has a high damping capacity, such that it reduces vibrations in the transportation industry, among others.
It has good casting properties, especially at high pressure given its high resistance. More fluid than aluminum, it can more easily fill a complex mould for die casting.
It also has high thermal conductivity.
Magnesium has excellent electromagnetic protection properties. A 1 mm-thick wall reduces electromagnetic transmission by 80%.
Magnesium is 100% recyclable.
Nearly 70% of global magnesium production is used to manufacture alloys.
Magnesium is used in various industrial sectors, such as transportation (cars, airplanes, trains), consumer electronics (laptops, cell phones, tablets), steel, titanium and zirconium production, agricultural and pharmaceutical chemical production, the medical implants industry, the aluminum and iron industries, and more.
The industry in which magnesium is most highly valued is undoubtedly the transportation industry, as lighter vehicles are a central element in reducing fuel consumption, but also in enabling the electric car industry to expand further.
More than half of magnesium is used in alloys with aluminum, which are valued for their resistance, lightness and resistance to sparks, and are widely used in automotive parts. In fact, various automobile manufacturers use cast magnesium-aluminum alloys (Mg-Al) to produce steering wheels, steering columns, brackets, dashboards, pedals and intake manifold housings, to name a few. High resistance and corrosion resistance are essential for aerospace alloys, as well as helicopter and racing car gearboxes, many of which rely on magnesium alloys.
Magnesium is not only used in the automotive and aeronautics industries. It also generates a lot of interest in the sports industry. Magnesium has taken high performance to a whole new level. Not only is magnesium as light, durable and resistant as aluminum, but it also absorbs 16 times more shock and vibration, making it an ideal metal and giving competitive sports an added advantage. Some of the equipment for skiers, snowboarders and even skaters is now made from magnesium because it provides much more stability at high speeds. It is also transforming golfing, where woods made with a magnesium crown are lighter with better weight distribution, allowing golfers to deliver a harder, more powerful swing.
Everyday electronics is another area where magnesium and its alloys play a major role. Everyone wants lighter, thinner laptops, cameras and cellular telephones that are durable enough to withstand daily wear and tear. Magnesium can make a big difference for these fragile products. Not only does magnesium’s strength-to-weight ratio make it the best metal, but it is also 100 times better than plastic in terms of heat dissipation.
The medical field is using magnesium to develop more and more surgical tools and implants with multiple properties.
Beer and soda cans don’t have the same requirements as special alloys, but a small amount of magnesium is used in the aluminum alloy that forms these cans. Although only a small amount of magnesium is used per can, this industry is still the largest consumer of magnesium in the world.
Global demand for magnesium will show healthy growth over the next few years, with an annual growth rate of at least 7% in the next decade. This growth is attributable to new vehicle fuel consumption standards, which require lighter vehicles. Because magnesium is 70% lighter than steel, it is becoming an efficient and increasingly sought-after alternative given the transportation industry’s new standards.
Worldwide use of magnesium and its alloys has increased significantly in recent years. Magnesium is 70% lighter than steel, making it a lightweight alternative capable of meeting new environmental standards in the transportation industry. Magnesium is by far the best choice for reducing the weight of vehicles, and therefore their environmental footprint. Global demand is expected to increase over the next decade. Research and development related to new technologies could have a significant impact on magnesium demand in the long term.
In addition, magnesium is one of the main elements in aluminum alloys. The unique properties of these alloys for the production of aluminum cans and for applications in the aerospace and transportation industries make it technically unfeasible to substitute them with other elements.
Magnesium consumption in the European Union and the United States is almost entirely dependent on imports from China. Reliable and unimpeded access to this raw material is a growing concern for these territories. The US Department of the Interior (National Defense Institute) has published a list of 35 minerals, including magnesium, deemed critical to the economic and national security of the United States. The European Union (European commission on the internal market and critical materials) has also included magnesium on its list of critical minerals for many years now.
In addition, high magnesium prices amid growing demand and limited supply from China are having a negative impact on automobile manufacturers and the aerospace industry of the Western world.
Global demand is expected to grow by 6.5 to 7.1% over the next decade (IMA, 2017; Future Market Insights, 2016). However, capacity increases within existing companies are small relative to total global growth (Roskill, 2013).
China has 85% of the world market. There are also a few producers in Russia, Brazil, Israel and Finland. There is only one producer in the United States at this time.
Alliance Magnesium contributes to the recovery of a mining liability by transforming millions of tons of serpentine tailings from decades of mining operations. In accordance with circular economy principles, the recovery of thousands of tonnes of accumulated asbestos mine tailings presents itself as a solution for the safe disposal of this waste.
The manufacturing process is based on an electrolytic unit process fuelled by hydroelectricity, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions from magnesium manufacturing by nearly 85%, not counting the greenhouse gas reduction achieved through the increased use of magnesium in the automotive industry.
Alliance Magnesium aims to establish itself in the transportation industry, targeting the U.S. and European markets.
For decades, Quebec has been mining asbestos, generating millions of tonnes of serpentine tailings. We now know that these tailings contain almost 25% magnesium. Quebec therefore has the potential to leverage its mining liabilities by producing a safe and sought-after material.
Alliance Magnesium will help fight climate change by producing the most sustainable magnesium on the planet. In today’s market, this will be a central factor.
During the commercial demonstration phase, 12,700 (and possibly up to 18,000) tonnes of magnesium will be produced per year. Once the commercial plant is complete, Alliance Magnesium aims to produce 50,000 tonnes of magnesium per year. Of these quantities, a portion will be produced from magnesium scrap, meaning it is recycled magnesium.
Alliance Magnesium does not wish to replace existing companies, but rather to offer an eco-friendly North American alternative by bringing to market a quality product with a small ecological footprint made from clean technology. The use of environmentally friendly industrial processes is increasingly popular on the markets, making Alliance Magnesium a key player in magnesium production. At the proposed magnesium metal production rate of 50,000 tonnes per year, Alliance would only meet a portion of this industry’s annual growth.
The project represents investments valued at more than $900 million in the Des Sources RCM in the Eastern Townships. It also encourages economic diversification in the region and creates synergy between university, college, institutional, economic and industrial stakeholders. The recovery of asbestos mine tailings is providing an important economic boost, and the value of the minerals contained in these tailings holds great potential.
The commercial demonstration phase requires the construction of a plant for which some 100 construction workers in the area will be recruited. More than 100 direct jobs will be created during construction, in addition to the jobs already in place.
- Indirect jobs and local purchasing
- Networking opportunity for research
- Development of specialized local expertise
- Working with the education community to better meet educational needs
- Creation of quality jobs
- Attractive project to retain young people in the area and draw new talent
- Business opportunities for companies in the area (services, labour and materials)
- Investments totalling $6 million have been made in the area since Alliance Magnesium’s arrival in 2012
- Economic diversification in the region
- Quebec will benefit from bulk purchasing of hydroelectricity
- Increased tax revenue for the region and its governments
The Alliance Magnesium project represents one of the most important private projects in the region. This is a unique opportunity for economic diversification in the Des Sources RCM and the Eastern Townships. It is also an opportunity to develop a new industrial sector while maximizing the region’s assets, expertise and opportunities. Alliance has been providing direct and indirect economic benefits for the past six years, and the benefits accrue every year. The company will go from offering 15 jobs to more than 250 direct jobs within a few years.
The commercial demonstration phase requires the construction of a plant for which some 100 construction workers will be recruited. More than 100 direct jobs will be created during construction, in addition to the jobs already in place.
The entire commercial phase will require 400 construction workers and create 250 direct jobs once the plant is in operation.
At the beginning of construction, the site will include:
- About 20 Alliance Magnesium employees
- About 20 steelworkers
- About 20 other workers from various trades
At the height of construction, there will be:
- About 30 Alliance Magnesium employees
- About 100 construction workers
In total, Alliance Magnesium estimates a total of 230 workers during construction.
- The first operational building
- About 20 to 25 more Alliance Magnesium employees will join the team
- Construction crews will be hired to work on the other buildings
Operation of the entire demonstration plant:
- About 100 Alliance Magnesium employees will be needed
Upon announcing the start of construction, Alliance Magnesium will be ready to establish its hiring schedule. The hiring process will be gradual and the first operators will be involved in casting. Then, as things progress, new jobs will be posted. A few very specific positions will have to be filled at the outset. Then, before construction is complete, a call for applications will be done gradually and the hiring process will begin in the fall of 2020.
For construction workers, this will be done through the firms and companies that collaborate with Alliance Magnesium. The contractors concerned will be notified and the details will be made available.
Yes, but depending on hard and soft skills and experience. Alliance Magnesium already has a local purchasing and procurement policy, which includes hiring and subcontracting.
Yes. Alliance Magnesium embraces equality in employment.
Jobs in construction will be offered first, which will include hiring a general contractor and subcontracting companies that will be working under the general contractor. The company will then focus on hiring:
- Administrative workers
- Laboratory technicians
Yes, Alliance Magnesium invested $1 million locally during the pilot project. In addition, a local investment policy has been implemented, which includes procurement, subcontracting and hiring. These investments will increase for the next stages.
The ingots may vary in size, according to customers’ requirements. Pure or alloyed magnesium ingots will be of various shapes and sizes, ranging from 6 to 23 kg.
Magnesium is currently worth about US$5,500 per tonne. Each ingot is therefore worth about US$50.
Magnesium is 33% lighter than aluminum and 70% lighter than steel. Like aluminum, magnesium is fully recyclable, but is more durable and resistant as a material. Magnesium is used in the transportation industry, making vehicles lighter and therefore more fuel-efficient.
Alliance Magnesium produces the most responsible magnesium. First, it is made from waste material from another industry. Because the ore has already been processed, there is no need for mining, so the raw material is already ready for use. In addition, because it uses green hydroelectric power, Alliance Magnesium’s process will be more eco-friendly.
Magnesium is a strategic material for which demand will increase over the next few years. This demand is currently met by Chinese production, which involves highly polluting industrial processes fuelled by coal-fired power plants. The magnesium produced in Quebec, powered by hydroelectricity, will be far less polluting, such that demand will be met in a much more environmentally friendly way. Magnesium produced at the Alliance Magnesium plant will emit 22 fewer tonnes of greenhouse gases per tonne of magnesium produced.
Plus this magnesium is made from waste material from another industry. Because the ore has already been processed, there is no need for mining, so the raw material is already ready for use. In addition, because it uses green hydroelectric power, Alliance Magnesium’s process will be more eco-friendly.
The circular economy aspect will also be present at other levels at Alliance Magnesium. The raw material has strong potential for the extraction of other materials such as silica, nickel, zinc, cobalt and iron.
The company does not consider them to be tailings, but rather by-products. In keeping with circular economy principles, each element’s value is calculated based on its potential. Thus, there are potential uses for amorphous silica, nickel, iron and possibly cobalt.
Yes. The restoration represents an amount of approximately $7 million. Payments will be made in 3 stages (50%, 25% and 25%).
The BAPE hearings forced the company to adjust some of its deadlines and to prepare a business plan tailored to the situation. In light of expected delays, adaptation was key. In any case, Alliance Magnesium has now resumed its activities. Alliance Magnesium is complying with all current standards and regulations and is committed to following any new ones that could come into force in the future.
The BAPE is fully independent and will make its recommendations to the government. Firstly, it is important to note that the BAPE’s mandate does not specifically concern Alliance Magnesium, but rather the management of asbestos and the recovery of mine tailings. It should also be noted that Alliance Magnesium already holds its certificate of authorization from Quebec’s Ministère de l’Environnement for the current commercial demonstration phase.
It is also worth noting that the focus for the first stage of construction will be on the casting centre, where recycled magnesium will be used initially. As such, a portion of Alliance Magnesium’s activities will be profitable in itself. Alliance is not making any assumptions about the findings of the current BAPE hearings. Alliance is committed to complying with the highest standards and guidelines dictated by the government based on the BAPE’s recommendations.
The current BAPE hearings are generic in nature. They are not specific to Alliance Magnesium. The company has received its environmental certificates of authorization for the commercial demonstration plant, which will be built in two phases.
The subsequent phase, known as the commercial phase, is aimed at building the entire plant for the production of 50,000 tonnes of magnesium per year. This phase will be subject to obtaining authorizations in accordance with the laws and regulations in force in Quebec and Canada.
Alliance Magnesium is prepared for a possible environmental assessment process specifically concerning its operations when the situation calls for it.
Studies conducted independently show that waste piles can be recovered while fully respecting the environment, the public and workers. The safety of workers and the population has always been central to Alliance Magnesium’s values. In fact, the concentration threshold of asbestos fibres in ambient air required in the certificate of authorization issued by Quebec’s Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre le changement climatique [Ministry of Environment and Fight Against Climate Change] to Alliance Magnesium is 250 times more stringent than that required in Canadian standards, and the company meets the threshold for all sensitive receptors.
The serpentine has less than 2% free fibre content, based on analyses of samples taken from the tailings pile for the 43-101 study conducted in 2017 and the Geocon study. These soils contain chrysotile, a type of asbestos that releases very low concentrations of fibres (Institut de Recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail IRSST, Study and Research Report).
The asbestos fibres contained in the ore are not considered respirable asbestos fibres (Source: CNESST). It is the respirable free fibres that should be considered for analysis purposes and for their effects. Regardless of the quantity of fibres, the key is, and always will be, to protect workers and to implement mitigation measures, if need be, to prevent the dispersal of fibres and ultimately protect the population. The magnesium manufacturing processes developed by Alliance Magnesium totally destroy the remaining fibre in the asbestos mine tailings, resulting in a fibre-free final product.
No. It uses tailings that were accumulated over the years as an environmental liability by the now defunct asbestos mining industry, which is now banned in Canada. However, there are metals in the tailings that have the potential to be reclaimed. A small amount of free fibre remains in these tailings, which must be processed to produce high-purity magnesium ingots.
The company has obtained the certificate of authorization from the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte aux Changements Climatiques [Ministry of Environment and Fight Against Climate Change] for the commercial demonstration phase. The Alliance Magnesium process destroys all traces of residual fibres.
A worker protection program for all stages of the project has been implemented. The safety of workers and the population has always been central to Alliance Magnesium’s values. For this reason, the certificate of authorization issued by the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte aux Changements Climatiques [Ministry of Environment and Fight Against Climate Change] requires a concentration threshold of asbestos fibres in the air of 4×106 f/cc, which is 10,000 times more stringent than the threshold required in Ontario standards. Moreover, Alliance Magnesium has a zero tolerance policy: our product is completely asbestos-free from the very first stage of the process.
During the preparation phase, the only phase in which asbestos fibres may be present, the company implements collective protection measures adapted to the nature of its operations to prevent the dispersal of residual chrysotile fibres.
Certain provisions are aimed at preventing the emission of asbestos fibres in the ambient air. The Regulation respecting the sanitation of the atmosphere (chap. Q-2, r.4.1) specifies that outdoor conveyors used to carry asbestos and unloading areas must be enclosed and connected to a dust collector.
Other mitigation measures:
- Dust reduction
- Dust elimination
- Dust suction at source
- Continuous sedimentation of suspended fibres
- Safe distance from the source
Raw material is moved around the industrial site only. In addition, various mitigation measures to reduce dust and avoid fibre dispersion have been put in place. A modelling study showed no risk to the surrounding population.
The principle of destroying chrysotile fibres is not new. This method has been used since the 1950s and consists in completely weakening the fibre. In 1952, Nagy and Bates (Am. Mineral., 37: 1055-1058), reporting on the stability of chrysotile, showed that it has high solubility in hydrochloric acid. MgOH contained in the fibrous structure is a basic material that reacts strongly with HCl to produce magnesium chloride (MgCl2) and H2O. In short, the fibre weakens completely when exposed to acid.
There are no fibres in the plant as of the leaching stage. Beyond this point, tolerance is zero, as the fibre has been completely destroyed. Independent laboratory tests are performed using samples of Alliance Magnesium serpentine. Analyses cross-checked by an accredited external laboratory (Eurofins) are also carried out.
Workers wear all personal protective equipment, depending on the work they are doing and what is required. For residual asbestos fibres, specialized masks are worn, as well as overalls, if necessary. At this time, no work at the plant involves exposure to fibres, as the pilot project, which is now complete, was a success. An asbestos management program will be developed and up and running before work using raw material begins.
This program includes:
- Inventory of buildings and spaces containing residual chrysotile fibres
- Qualitative and quantitative characterization of fibres
- Record keeping (air quality data sheet and analyses)
- Options for intervention (corrective measures)
- Development of work procedures
- Selection and acquisition of personal and collective protective equipment
- Appointment of individuals in charge of implementing the program
- Staff training and briefing (managers, workers, subcontractors, students, trainees)
For Alliance Magnesium, implementing an asbestos management program means adopting a cross-disciplinary approach, which includes putting mitigation measures in place to avoid air dispersion and, therefore, protect the population, in particular, by:
- Conducting preparatory work underneath a dome
- Dust elimination
- Dust suction at source
- Continuous sedimentation of suspended fibres
- Safe distance from the source
The environmental certificate of authorization received on March 29, 2019, allowing the operation of a magnesium mining, melting and refining plant, clearly states that:
- The pre-treatment ore screening will take place in an enclosed space.
- The screened ore will be temporarily stored in an enclosed space.
- Ore will be prepared (ground and screened) and a wet dust collector will be installed and operated.
- Ambient air quality will be monitored at least monthly, for fibre count, at three high-volume flow measuring stations.
Alliance Magnesium has done its homework. The atmospheric dispersal modelling study conducted by an engineering firm shows that all regulated standards are met. In addition, Quebec’s Ministère de l’Environmement has asked Alliance Magnesium to maintain, outside its property’s boundaries, a level of airborne fibres 10,000 times lower than is required elsewhere in Canada. Located at about 1.5 km from the nearest neighbours, the tailings piles owned by Alliance Magnesium are ideally situated.
Yes. Each month, an external firm conducts air sampling on site. It is important to remember that Alliance Magnesium has obtained its certificate of authorization for phase 1. The phase contrast microscopy method, recognized by the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail and performed in a certified laboratory, shows that all total fibre results are below the limit for all points sampled.
False. Firstly, growing vegetation on the tailings piles requires handling the material to mix it with fertilizing agents. According to all of the public health directors giving input for the federal government’s asbestos ban, the most effective solution would be to completely decontaminate the tailings piles, which is what Alliance Magnesium will do using the process it has developed.
There is a difference between the presence of asbestos fibres and air quality. Therein lies the issue: the presence of asbestos fibres in the soil versus what we breathe. There is no algorithm to calculate airborne fibre concentrations (f/cm³) based on soil concentrations (%). (Ref.: Perkins et al. 2008. IRSST Studies and Research Report)