Western Magnesium Corporation (formerly Nevada Clean Magnesium), headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, has started the buildout of its first commercialized pilot plant, with several industrial sites in the U.S. under consideration. The company plans to use a proprietary technology for the production of low-cost, green magnesium metal using dolomite from its Tami-Mosi deposit in Ely, Nevada. This brings Western Magnesium closer to its goal of becoming a significant player in the supply of magnesium metal and its alloys in the U.S.
For the past decade, Western Magnesium has been researching and developing a new process that overcomes traditional production obstacles inherent in batch production methods (such as the Pidgeon process), which are used in China and other emerging countries with lax labor and environmental standards.
The proprietary technology developed by Western Magnesium is based on a modified silicothermic process. The process is a closed and contained system that does not expose hot, raw magnesium to the atmosphere, thereby greatly reducing lost product, toxic waste and emissions. According to the company, it also provides increased throughput and compressed production times and is able to provide 99% pure magnesium.
The company produced preliminary magnesium metal using a bench-scale pilot furnace in 2017.
In December 2018, the company followed up with the production of its first magnesium ingot from dolomite at its Tami-Mosi property. This completed the proof of concept stage, allowing Western Magnesium’s technical team to develop an efficient pilot furnace capable of producing 2 kilograms of magnesium metal per hour.
Since then, the technical team generated a conceptual design applicable for a production scale, silicothermic reduction operation. “Our vision is to develop a magnesium production process that will create a cornerstone industry allowing innovation in industries as diverse as automotive, aerospace, defense and general manufacturing,” said Sam Ataya, CEO of Western Magnesium. “These innovations now set the stage for commercialization.”
Now the company is moving forward with the buildout for its comercial-scale pilot line. Western Magnesium’s Robert Odle, chief process engineer, and Paul Sauvé, VP, Operations, have already contracted an international engineering firm to assist in the design and procurement of the pilot plant. Key activities, such as, process design, flowsheet development, process modeling, and mechanical design are well under way.
The pilot plant is a stepping-stone to move the company forward in producing the first run of metal that will be used to carry out end-user industry testing as well as obtain industry certification by the automobile, aerospace, and airline industries, and also the government and military.
Western Magnesium aims to achieve its goal of producing magnesium metal by the end of 2020.