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Finnish Minerals Group and Adven aim for industrial recycling of sodium sulphate

The parties intend to carry out a plant-scale project that would make it technically and economically feasible to partially recycle water containing sodium sulphate at a battery material facility.

Published

2. December 2022

Discharging industrial water containing sodium sulphate into water bodies has been a topic of discussion in Finland for decades. Now, in the 2020s with the rise of battery material plants, this issue is even more interesting to Finnish industry. In line with the principles of the circular economy, sodium sulphate created in the production processes of the mining, battery and forestry industries could be viewed as a raw material that can be processed into commodities widely used by industry.

Finnish Minerals Group’s research and development on the processing of sodium sulphate has been a long-term effort. The company launched the monitoring and evaluation of developing processing technologies in 2015. In the years that followed, different technologies were researched and piloted, and technical-economical comparisons were carried out.

Sodium sulphate is not classified as toxic or dangerous. It occurs naturally in seas and lakes, as well as in potable water. Nevertheless, it is vital for the mining and battery industry to make the most of the side streams generated in its production processes.

Battery material industry interested in a solution

The upcoming battery material plants will open up an opportunity to forge ahead with this development work while also designing and implementing a sodium sulphate recycling solution. At this stage, we are cooperating with Adven Oy to develop a commercial solution.

“Companies in the battery materials industry are particularly interested in a plant-scale solution. If a cost-effective solution is found, the results and best practices of the spearhead project can be utilised in other cases going forward. No off-the-shelf solution is available, partly because Europe doesn’t yet have large-scale production of pCAM, that is, precursor active cathode material,” says Vesa Koivisto, SVP at Finnish Minerals Group.

“It is important for Adven to act as an enabler of emission-free energy and technically and economically feasible circular economy solutions for industry. Various technologies for controlling the sodium sulphate concentration of industrial wastewater enable reusing spent chemicals in industrial processes, which minimises the discharge of sodium sulphate into water bodies. We want to play our part in creating solutions that are suitable for sodium sulphate management based on a service model, to solve the wastewater challenge and enable new industrial activities,” says Teemu Helistekangas, Industry Lead of Adven's chemical and process industry.

Business Finland supports the work

In November 2022, Business Finland granted EUR 15 million at the maximum in investment aid to Adven-FMG Sodium Sulphate Solutions Oy, a joint venture company between Finnish Minerals Group and Adven. This will enable a project aiming at advancing a plant investment, utilising the basis data of the pCAM plant planned for Hamina. This work seeks to find a solution whereby a significant amount of the sodium sulphate generated by the plant can be recycled.

“The uptake of electric cars is surging in Europe and Finland. This shows that an increasing number of drivers want to contribute to preventing climate change. As an investment and development company, we want to do our part in creating Finnish industry that responds to all environmental perspectives, including materials recycling and minimisation of emissions, in an optimal manner,” says Matti Hietanen, CEO of Finnish Minerals Group.

The recipient of the investment grant, Adven-FMG Sodium Sulphate Solutions Oy, is a joint venture founded by Suomen Malmijalostus Oy and Adven Oy in 2021, of which Suomen Malmijalostus owns 49 per cent. At the beginning of 2022, the joint venture received a support decision of 1.23 million euros from Business Finland for the piloting of the sodium sulphate treatment solution.

Business Finland has also supported Finnish Minerals Group’s development work on sodium sulphate processing as part of several previous projects since 2016.

 

For more information:

Vesa Koivisto, SVP, Finnish Minerals Group
firstname.lastname(at)mineralsgroup.fi, +358 50 453 6322

Teemu Helistekangas, Industry Lead, Chemical and Process Industry, Adven Oy
firstname.lastname(at)adven.com, +358 40 532 2414

 

The mission of Finnish Minerals Group is to responsibly maximise the value of Finnish minerals. We manage the State’s mining industry shareholdings and strive to develop the Finnish value chain of lithium-ion batteries. Through our work, we contribute to Europe moving towards electric transport and a more sustainable future. www.mineralsgroup.fi