Critical Metals and Neometals to build sustainable European vanadium production facility in Finland

Figure 1 - Location of Porirelative to the SSAB steel operationsin Finland and Sweden

Australian companies Critical Metals Ltd. and Neometals Ltd. have chosen the City of Pori in Finland as the preferred location for their sustainable vanadium recovery and production facility in Europe (“Vanadium Recovery Plant” and or “VRP”).

Commitments by Critical Minerals Ltd. and the City of Pori have been formalised in a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”). The MOU sets out the framework under which the parties will work together for the granting oftenure and permits required for the successful establishment of the proposed vanadium processing plant (“Vanadium Recovery Facility” or “VRF”).

As previously announced, Neometals has executed a collaboration agreement with Critical, to jointly evaluate the feasibility of constructing a VRF to recover and produce high-purity vanadium products from vanadium-bearing steel by-product (“Slag”) in Scandinavia. Neometals will fund and manage the evaluation activities up to consideration of a final investment decision, which, if positive, will earn Neometals a 50% interest in an incorporated joint venture with Critical (“JV”).

Critical has executed a conditional agreement (“Slag Supply Agreement”) with SSAB EMEA AB and SSAB Europe Oy, subsidiaries of SSAB AB, a steel producer that operates steel mills in Scandinavia. Slag is a by-product of SSAB’s steel making operations. The Slag Supply Agreement provides a secure basis for the evaluation of a potential VRF capable of processing 200,000 tonnes of Slag per annum without the need to build a mine and concentrator like existing primary producers.

Tahkoluoto port in Pori is an excellent location. It is an ice-free harbour with capacity to receive Panamax sized ships. With Pori’s long history as a centre of hydrometallurgical excellence, the VRF will have access to ‘best-in-class’ logistics and infrastructure. Additionally, the Finnish government appears extremely motivated to provide significant support to alignwith EU targets for ‘Net Zero’ emissions and development ofresilient supply chainsfor critical minerals.

With a location chosen for the processing site, Neometals can now rely on high quality and timely site related information to be fed into the AACE Class 4 preliminary feasibility study (“PFS”). The PFS is progressing well and remains on track to be completed by the end of June 2021.

Figure 2 – Aerial schematic showing location for the proposed VRF processing plant at Tahkoluoto port, Pori, Finland

Neometals Managing Director Chris Reed commented: “Neometals is excited to be working with the City of Pori and the Finnish Government who have been exceptionally proactive in securing this sustainable critical mineral opportunity for the region. Neometals has made an active pivot towards more sustainable materials recovery and recycling projects to remove the huge carbon footprint of the supply chain that comes from traditional upstream mineral processing. The Vanadium Recovery Project demonstrates our resolve to optimise finite resources with circular practices to benefit society and the environment for a sustainable future. Together with project partners Critical, we are firmly focused on building the first European low-carbon vanadium production facility at Pori”.

The vanadium bearing stockpiles used in the VRP are some of the highest-grade vanadium feedstock sources in the world – Critical Metals and Neometals are positioning to become a major producer of vanadium in Europe commencing late 2024.

Vanadium is of high importance to the EU economy and has high risks associated with its supply. For this reason, the European Commission has included vanadium on its list of critical raw materials. Approximately 75% of global vanadium supply is produced in China, South Africa, and Russia.

Critical Metals and Neometals propose using a patent pending low energy-low emission, hydrometallurgical process to recover vanadium from steel slag whilst also producing a chemically stable secondary product. The recovery of metals from by-products in an environmentally friendly manner is very important for Europe, particularly given its stated goals with respect to raw material resilience and circular economies.

“The Vanadium Recovery Project is a fantastic example of the circular economy in action and we’re very pleased to announce the Project will be based in the City of Pori, Finland. The Tahkoluoto Port in Pori has first-class logistics connected to international markets, the proposed development site is zoned for industrial use and there are multiple sources of CO2 we can sequester for our sustainable process. The team representing Finland and the City of Pori are incredibly professional, proactive, and supportive of our goal to recover vanadium from slag in an environmentally friendly manner. We’re absolutely focused on working together with the City of Pori and its stakeholders to build Europe’s first low energy-low emission vanadium production facility” – says Damian Hicks, Executive Director, Critical Metals.

“We want to thank global teams from Critical Metals and Neometals for having selected Finland and City of Pori to develop its processing plant for the VRP. The VRP will support Finland’s target to be carbon neutral by 2035 and builds on the strengths of competitive sustainable circular economy know-how in Finland. The planned VRP supports also European Green deal by establishing vanadium production into Europe. This is an important step for sustainable, low-carbon, more resilient European industries utilizing vanadium. Critical Metals’ and Neometals’ project creates opportunities for further research and development co-operation, employment and investments in Finland. On behalf of a great team who has worked relentlessly and paved the way, we warmly welcome Critical Metals and Neometals to Finland. Great to have a growing team combating the climate change with sustainable circular economy approach – together” – says Markku Kivistö, Head of Industry, Cleantech, Invest In, Business Finland.

Critical Metals aims to supply Europe with metals from Scandinavia via urban mining, the recovery of metals from industrial by-products. Critical Metals has two main projects, the vanadium recovery project, and the lithium-ion battery recycling project.

Neometals innovatively develops opportunities in minerals and advanced materials essential for a sustainable future. With a focus on the energy storage megatrend, the strategy focuses on de-risking and developing long life projects with strong partners and integrating down the value chain to increase margins and return value to shareholders. Neometals has four core projects with large partners that span the battery value chain.

Pori is a city and a municipality on the west coast of Finland, established in 1558. The population is about 84000 and on the metro area about 150000. The economy of the city is based on strong industry, especially on sectors of technology metals, circular economy and automation. The port of Pori offers easy navigation conditions and access to deep draft vessels especially on bulk and chemical cargos. The city is well-known about the annual International Jazz Festival (since 1966) and the annual public debate forum “SuomiAreena” and other lively events.

Business Finland is a Finnish public-sector operator which offers innovation funding and internationalisation services and promotes tourism and investments in Finland. The organisation employs 750 specialists in 44 global locations and 16 offices in Finland. Business Finland is part of the Team Finland network.

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