The circular economy: central to Alliance Magnesium’s business model

Alliance Magnesium embodies the circular economy approach through the recovery and optimization of resources. The raw materials used are serpentine tailings accumulated over several decades by previous mining operations, and magnesium scraps from magnesium processing companies.

The company has developed an innovative technology and process giving it a cleaner and less expensive approach than those currently used by magnesium manufacturers worldwide.

Alliance Magnesium: turning an environmental liability into a high value-added product

The paradigm shift created by the circular economy can result in substantial GHG reductions for the industrial sector since, according to a recent report (Circle Economy, 2019), less than 10% of material flow is repurposed globally.

Alliance Magnesium is helping to concretely demonstrate the essential impact of the circular economy on reducing GHG in the industrial sector; according to recent reports, the shift to clean energy in Quebec industries will not be sufficient to achieve the GHG reduction target that Quebec has set for itself.

Alliance Magnesium also recycles magnesium scrap from the metal processing industry to make high value-added magnesium, thereby achieving full circularity.

Did you know?

Magnesium is infinitely recyclable, allowing for full circularity.

Turning waste into by-products

Alliance Magnesium goes even further for its own process-separated waste: all the extracted by-products have potential for recovery, namely silica, iron, nickel and cobalt.
Magnola, the last company to own Alliance Magnesium’s current site, disposed of 70% of tailings at the end of its magnesium extraction process. Alliance Magnesium, on the other hand, will take advantage of the wealth of its resources to help the environment. The ultimate goal is to dispose of a maximum of 5% of all raw material used.

Amorphous silica produced by Alliance Magnesium

Its main by-product is amorphous silica, accounting for 40% of raw material used. This product is known to be safe and non-carcinogenic, unlike crystalline silica.

Alliance Magnesium’s production of silica can improve the environmental record of Quebec’s industrial cement production. Each tonne of amorphous silica used in manufacturing cement has been shown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 0.8 t. A study conducted for Alliance Magnesium in partnership with the Faculty of Engineering of the Université de Sherbrooke under the supervision of researcher Arezki Tagnit-Hamou led to the filing of a general patent. The study demonstrated that the silica developed and produced by Alliance Magnesium could be used as a partial replacement for Portland cement in concrete.

Other high-value metals

Alliance Magnesium could also extract nickel and cobalt in later stages of development. These metals are used, among other things, in the battery industry for electric cars.

Reduction of rejections

The raw material is a residue of mining, piled up for decades.

Mining residues (raw material)

100%

There will be extraction of 40% magnesium oxide (of which 25% will be transformed into metallic magnesium).

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After magnesium extraction 

60%

From the raw material, through the magnesium extraction process, the amorphous silica is also

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Silica removed from tailings 

20%

Also from the rich raw material, about 10% iron can be removed.

Residual iron 

10%

Finally, other metals are found in smaller quantities, but still have potential potential. In the end, Alliance Magnesium could reduce mine tailings to leave as little as less than 5%.

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After Nickel / Cobalt removal 

≤ 5 %