12. Here is how LAMP is designed to function:
- it 'cracks and separates' Lanthanide Concentrate ( Rare Earth Ores) to obtain Rare Earth Oxides in carbonate and oxides forms for various light and heavy rare earth elements.;
-t he overall efficiency of the various processes or cracking and leaching; extraction and post treatment is around 86.09% of the total THROUGHPUT;
- It is designed to operate 24/7 for 8,000 hours per year which works out to 333.3 days.
- The scheduled shipment of Concentrate was slated to begin in July 2009. It was delayed until Nov 2012.
- Initial annual shipment quantities is 32,407 tpa (dry) with long term annual shipments amounting to 64,800 tpa (dry) for 2010 onwards. ( this was realised in 2014).
- All concentrate are transported in 2t bags in sea container from Mt Weld to Fremantle port by road and rail ; a distance of more than 1,000 km.; 1,007.0 km to be exact.
- They are then shipped in sea containers of 20 tonnes units to Kuantan Port.
- The content of these units then undergo processes as
described below: ( this will give you an inkling on how REO are produced) :
i) Concentrate will first be mixed with concentrated sulphuric acid before being pumped into the cracking kiln.The mixture of acid to dry concentrate is 1.6:1 with a residence time of 20 minutes.The slurry will reach a temperature of 140 to 180 degrees C.
ii) Once the slurry is in the cracking rotary kiln, it will be subjected to a calcine temperature of 650 degrees C for 150 minutes. The feed gas temperature could reach 850-900 degrees C while discharge gas temperature is 250-300 degrees C.
The waste gas produced is scrubbed to filter off the sulphur dioxide (SO2), sulphur trioxide (SO3) and suspended particles to comply with Standard C of the Environmental Quality ( Clean Air) Regulations, 1978.
Of these pollutants only the particulates and sulfur trioxide are regulated emission limits under Std C. ( Under Std C, solid particles emitted at any point of any smoke of any kind before admixture with air should be 0.4 grams in each normal cubic metre of effluent gas.)
The scrubbing process yields the first solid residue FGD ( Flue Gas Desulfurisation)
13. Now that the extraction process of Rare Earth Oxides has been explained in great details, let's examine the claim that Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) is a modern high tech plant as hyped by their PR spinners.
As can be seen, the raw material from Mount Weld, Western Australia, contains various light and heavy rare earths . They have to be converted into soluble salts in an aqueous media ( a liquid medium) before they are precipitated as RE salts in Chloride, oxide or carbonate forms.
The Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) is basically designed to do just that. It uses various processes and chemicals to do the job. It began by breaking up the ore (lanthanide concentrate) containing various rare earths by dissolving them in concentrated sulphuric acid and then subject it to near melting point temperature treatment before leaching the soluble metals in a liquid medium. Each individual Rare Earth is subsequently precipitated with different reagents to achieve a certain level of purity in a process called solvent extraction. That just about sums up what LAMP is designed to do.
Can this simple routine chemical plant be called a modern high tech plant? It sounds more like an exaggeration than the truth. For this our government granted LAMP a 12 years tax exemption! It is rather ought because normally a plant with pioneer status will be granted a 5 year or 10 years tax relief but 12 years? Perhaps the MOF can explain the rationale behind the exception.
14. Today marks the 5th year of an infamous event that took place under the cover of the nite with the escort of our police . It was the first shipment of the rare earth ores from Mt Weld to LAMP. You can read all about it in the post by Stv Zhong Liang below.
Before this, information was not available anywhere on the rare earth ores that formed the primary feedstock for Lynas' extraction plant in LAMP. Now with the help of various documents made available through the process of law and public pressure,we can now take a closer look at the ores and their byproducts after they have undergone the extraction process.
The feedstock ( rare earth ores) are mined and concentrated at Mt Weld mine in Western Australia. The long term annual shipments will deliver 64,800 tonnes of dry Lanthanide Concentrate to LAMP.
At LAMP , the imported Lanthanide Concentrate will undergo cracking , separation and product finishing and generate 3 major solid residue streams . They are namely the FGD ( Flue Gas Desulfurisation); WLP (Water Leach Purification) and NUF ( Neutralisation Underflow) residues.
All these 3 streams of solid residues are generated in moist cake forms which have a moisture content of 40-45%. According to the initial design of LAMP, the plant will generate 53,560 wet tonnes of FGD; 161,820 wet tonnes of NUF and 53,333 wet tonnes of WLP. At full operating stage the total tonnage generated for each stream will be doubled!
All these streams of residues were originally placed under the regulatory control of AELB. The FGD and NUF residues contain very low levels of radionuclides. This prompted the IAEA review team to recommend that a criteria be developed by AELB to enable them to be removed from their regulatory purview.