TORONTO, June 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Innovation Metals Corp. (“IMC” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that the Company has executed a binding agreement with Kingston Process Metallurgy Inc. (“KPM”) to serve as IMC’s long-term laboratory partner for the commercialization of the RapidSX™ technology. IMC’s proprietary RapidSX™ technology is being developed for the cost-effective, bulk/commercial separation and purification of rare-earth elements ("REEs") — including both heavy REE ("HREEs") and light REEs ("LREEs") — for the production of REE oxides (“REOs”), in addition to other critical metals, such as lithium ("Li"), nickel ("Ni"), and cobalt ("Co") for lithium-ion (“Li-ion”) battery materials. IMC is also pleased to announce that the Company has secured the premises for the RapidSX™ Commercialization and Development Facility (“CDF”) in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
IMC developed the RapidSX™ separation technology with the assistance of US$1.8 million in funding from the United States Department of Defense (“US DoD"), resulting in the production of commercial-grade, separated REOs at the pilot scale. The technology combines the time-proven chemistry of conventional solvent extraction (“SX”) with a new column-based platform, which significantly reduces time to completion and plant footprint, as well as potentially lowering capital and operating costs. SX is the international REE industry's standard commercial separation technology and is currently used by 100% of all REE producers worldwide for bulk commercial separation of both HREEs and LREEs.
Kingston Process Metallurgy — RapidSX™ Commercialization Laboratory Partner
KPM is IMC’s laboratory partner and will be supporting all aspects of IMC's technical work to commence the RapidSX™ optimization and commercialization program to scale up the RapidSX™ technology. Established in 2002, KPM is a highly respected, industry-leading contract chemical-process development company based in Kingston, Ontario. With more than 40 employees, KPM specializes in commercial process development and optimization, with techno-economic and process modeling in parallel. KPM has the demonstrated expertise, multidisciplinary skills, and fundamental knowledge to develop concepts and solve unique challenges for its clients.
IMC’s technical work will be led by IMC CEO and Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (“Ucore”) CTO and Director, Dr. Gareth Hatch, CEng, FRSA, FIMMM, FIET and IMC COO and Ucore VP of Metallurgy, Dr. Kurt Forrester, CEng, MIChemE, MAusIMM(CP). KPM principals Dr. Boyd Davis and Mr. Alain Roy will oversee the program of work at KPM and will directly manage the RapidSX™ CDF.
With an accomplished career in chemical metallurgy with a focus on applied thermodynamics, Dr. Davis is a co-founder of KPM, a former President of the Metallurgy and Materials Society (“MetSoc”) of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (“CIM”) and is an adjunct professor at Queen’s University in Kingston where he volunteers to supervise graduate students. He was also the originator and conference Co-Chair of the MetSoc, Society for Mining Metallurgy & Exploration Inc. (“SME”), and the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (“TMS”) ‘Extraction 2018’, the first global conference on extractive metallurgy.
Mr. Roy began his career at Hydro-Quebec's Energy Technology Laboratory (laboratoire des technologies de l'énergie or “LTE”) working on thermal plasma for metallurgical applications, prior to joining Noranda Inc. (now Glencore International) at their Canadian Copper Refinery (“CCR”) for five years, followed by three years at the company’s advanced material facility (NORAM Engineering and Constructors, Ltd., now 5N Plus Inc.), and two years at the Brunswick Lead Smelter. Mr. Roy then co-founded KPM where he serves as Vice President, Operations.
Dr. Hatch and Dr. Davis have previously worked together in a number of aspects of the REE sector, including the Critical Rare Earth Elements Network. “IMC is thrilled to partner with KPM in the commercialization of RapidSX™,” said Dr. Hatch. “KPM has an accomplished track record of metallurgical process development and commercialization, with a particular emphasis on clearly establishing the techno-economic feasibility of processes and appropriate unit-operation selection early on in the commercialization process.”
“KPM is excited to work alongside IMC on this new venture,” said Dr. Davis. “We believe that this partnership is a significant step forward for U.S. and Canadian REE initiatives. KPM is happy to support the development of the innovative RapidSX™ technology and the business strategy of Ucore and IMC, for the securing of installed REO manufacturing capacity in North America.”
IMC’s RapidSX™ CDF will occupy half (5,000 ft2) of the KPM Pilot Facility in Kingston. Long-term KPM client and industry-leading lithium-ion battery recycling company, Li-Cycle Corp. (“Li-Cycle”) currently occupies the other half of the facility (5,000 ft2). Through its work with KPM over the past three years, Li-Cycle’s Pilot Facility (pictured in Figure 1 above) is now the most advanced Li-ion-battery-recycling project in North America, with full-scale commercial operation achieved in Spring 2020. The CDF at the KPM Pilot Facility is in close proximity to KPM’s main laboratory facility.
Effectively Addressing End-User Concerns
The purpose of the RapidSX™ CDF is to develop bulk/commercial capabilities for the separation and purification of HREEs and LREEs, in addition to other technology/critical metals, from commercially available feedstocks. The RapidSX™ technology is feedstock agnostic, having demonstrated the capability of separating and purifying materials from a variety of sources, in contrast to being tied to any one particular source.
Due to its modular configuration and reduced number of stages, RapidSX™ is capable of readily reconfiguring for separating LREE-rich, HREE-rich and/or even blends of mixed REE feedstocks, utilizing existing, commercially available mixed REE concentrates (“MRECs”), not originating from China. Source optionality addresses consistently expressed end-user concerns regarding the risks of ‘sole sourcing’ materials. Considerable concerns regarding sole sourcing have been repeatedly communicated by end users, long before the global COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on critical-materials supply chains.
About Innovation Metals Corp.
IMC has developed the proprietary RapidSX™ process, for the low-cost separation and purification of REEs, Ni, Co, Li and other technology metals, via an accelerated form of solvent extraction. IMC is commercializing this approach for a number of metals, to help enable mining and metal-recycling companies to compete in today's global marketplace. IMC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ucore Rare Metals Inc.
For more information, please visit www.innovationmetals.com.
This news release contains projections and statements that may constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable Canadian, United States and other laws. Forward-looking statements in this release may include, among others, statements regarding the future plans, costs, objectives or performance of Innovation Metals Corp. (“IMC”), or the assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. In this news release, words such as “may”, “could”, “would”, “will”, “likely”, “believe”, “expect”, “anticipate”, “intend”, “plan”, “goal”, “estimate” and similar words and the negative forms thereof are used to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that are beyond IMC's control, and which may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of IMC to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties could cause actual results and IMC’s plans and objectives to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking information. IMC can offer no assurance that its plans will be completed. These and all subsequent written and oral forward-looking information are based on estimates and opinions of management on the dates they are made and expressly qualified in their entirety by this notice. Except as required by law, IMC assumes no obligation to update forward-looking information should circumstances or management’s estimates or opinions change.
Dr. Gareth Hatch, CEO
Innovation Metals Corp.
Telephone: +1 847 943 9757
A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/1c8cb41d-267f-469e-986b-ae81d21f83e9