ERAMET is positioned on promising markets to meet the needs of the modern world. Supported by its mining and metallurgical skills, the Group has extended its activities beyond the beneficiation of nickel and manganese. ERAMET now markets cobalt, titanium and zirconium-based products, while it is studying new activities centred on lithium.
ERAMET is active in a metal with high growth potential: lithium. Since 2010, its subsidiary ERAMINE SUDAMERICA has been testing the feasibility of producing battery-quality lithium carbonate from brine from Argentina’s salt flats. The salt will be used to make cathodes and phone, computer and electric car batteries. A fast-growing market.
At the end of 2016, ERAMET Research conducted a pre-industrial pilot programme on the downstream part of the process for extracting lithium from the Argentinean deposit, following a similar programme on the upstream stages. In parallel, the prefeasibility study was carried out by ERAMET Ingénierie and an Argentinean firm. Following tests to check the industrial process was repeatable, the project is set to enter its final development phase, the feasibility study, prior to industrialisation.
ERAMET’s Sandouville-Le Havre (France) refinery draws on its acknowledged expertise in high-purity products for various applications (catalysis, electronics, electro-plating, etc.) from nickel matte. In 2016, a new matte processing method was validated to adapt to the new composition of the nickel matte received, following a change of source. Sandouville’s new workshops will come on stream in mid-2017. They will enable the production of nickel salts, nickel metal, iron and cobalt.
TiZir Ltd is a 50/50 joint venture by ERAMET and its Australian partner Mineral Deposits Limited.
Since 2014, TiZir has operated a mineral sand deposit by continuous dredging, through its subsidiary Grande Côte Opérations SA (GCO) in Senegal. The world’s biggest mineral dredger works on an artificial basin, moving 7km per year along a 106km strip of dunes. A rotary blade, immersed in the sandy water, sucks in sand 24 hours a day. The 2% of heavy minerals (titanium-bearing minerals – ilmenite, leucoxene and rutile- and zirconium) is then concentrated, separated and dried. The extracted ilmenite is sent to the Tyssedal plant in Norway, where it is turned into titanium dioxide slag and high-purity cast iron.