Toshiba has developed a new method for extraction of earth and rare metals from a liquid waste from extraction of uranium. The company will test his method in a mine in Kazakhstan, in partnership with the Kazakh national company Kazatomprom and the Organization of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Mineral Resources Metal (JOGMEC). She plans to commercialize in 2012.
The technology involves the extraction of dysprosium, neodymium (both are used for the manufacture of magnets in motors for electric vehicles) and rhenium (used in aircraft engines) by electrolysis of a solution of sulfuric acid released during leaching of uranium ore . This solution contains rare earths that were present in the ore, which were dissolved along with uranium. Their extraction is difficult, sulfuric acid is usually discarded. Toshiba has developed a technique of electrolysis to enhance the waste and recover 5% of the land and rare metals it contains.
The announcement follows a series of press releases published recently and show the determination of Japanese players in the sector to reduce their dependence on imports of precious metals. Because even if November 24, China (which accounts for 95% of world production) has again allowed to export to Japan (she had been suspended in September following a territorial dispute around the Senkaku Islands), the it is not safe from another attack that would impede the development of its industry very consuming these items.
The policy of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in this regard had already been presented in May in Japan BE . It is divided into four areas: securing the importation of resources, recycling, development of alternative materials, and strategic reserves. This policy is echoed in the announcements made in November.
Firstly, in research, the Organization for the Development of New Energy and Industrial Technology (NEDO) announced November 10 that in the revised 2010 budget, the share devoted to its “development project materials replacement of rare metals “will be increased to 12 billion yen, which is double the previous year. This project, initiated in 2007, aims to reduce the consumption of rare earths, developing alternative materials, optimizing the quantities used and developing recycling techniques.
But it is on the theme of supply that Japanese diplomacy has borne fruit. Indeed, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has signed an agreement with his counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung during his visit to Vietnam in late October. The agreement formalizes the collaboration extraction of rare earths in the north, the second player from Japan (6%), behind China (93%). Discussions with a Vietnamese delegation are underway to extend this collaboration to a mine in the south. On the other hand, the Japanese company Sojitz has announced it has signed an agreement with Australian miner Lynas Corporation. priority for the provision of 9,000 tons per year of rare earths in the context of the development of Mt Weld in Western Australia. Finally, the Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj called, at a forum in Tokyo on trade between Japan and Mongolia to strengthen cooperation between the two countries. He has asked Japanese companies to participate in a joint development of the extraction of rare earths in his country.
 is to grind the leaching of uranium ore and dissolve it in sulfuric acid. The resulting solution is then filtered and then passed through an ion exchange resin. The uranium is then precipitated and recovered in solid form.
- NIKKEI.com – 29/11/2010 (English)
- Tech-On! – 29.11.2010 (Japanese)
- Press NEDO – 11/10/2010 (Japanese)
- Japan Chemical Web – 29/11/2010, 26/11/2010, 18/11/2010
|Category: Science||Tags: borne fruit, dysprosium, neodymium, uranium|