EcoMag has set its sights on producing magnesium carbonate using wastewater streams, or bitterns, from salt production in the Pilbara, Western Australia.
The emerging specialty chemicals producer will recycle hydrated magnesium carbonate (HMC) from bitterns generated by Dampier Salt, producing a high purity, high value magnesium product that fetches around $US1250 ($1808) a tonne currently.
A study completed by EcoMag has shown the volume of bitterns available for processing is much larger than initially expected and could support much higher production levels.
EcoMag’s proposed processing facility at Karratha was expected to produce around 80,000 tonnes of HMC a year.
At this capacity, the project would generate around $130 million of revenue every year, nearly all of which could be attributed to exports.
“We always knew there was substantial potential to expand production. Now we know how much, and it’s better than we thought,” EcoMag general manager Shaun Triner said.
“On average, we utilise only 10 per cent of the total waste stream. That’s not to say we could reliably expand production 10-fold because there is significant variability from year to year, but it looks like the resource could support production levels around six to eight times the initial plant.”
The potential for exploitation is practically uncapped, given that bittern resources are continually replenished by the ocean.
Should EcoMag expand its capacity by eight times, the increase could more than double its current manufacturing output and bring the region a billion dollars in yearly revenue.
EcoMag’s proposed facility construction is predicted to cost about $130 million and generate 110 jobs, with strong preference for local suppliers. Ongoing operation of the initial plant will provide 25 full-time jobs for permanent residents of Karratha.
“What sets EcoMag apart is that our business is entirely outside the boom and bust cycle and the fly-in-fly-out employment practices of the resources industry that dominates the region. We would offer both permanent employment and economic diversification,” EcoMag chief executive Tony Crimmins concluded.