April 12, 2023 • 2 min read

Installing sustainable sulphuric acid technology for Arafura

Chemetics, our technology and solutions provider for sulphuric acid and other specialty chemical facilities, has been awarded a contract to install its CORE-SO2™ sulphuric acid technology at Arafura Rare Earths Ltd’s Nolans Project in Australia.

Located 135 km north of Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory, this greenfield mine will extract and process neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr). These rare earth elements are used to create ultra-strong permanent magnets for a range of applications, such as household electronics and high-performance motors for electric vehicles.

We’re delivering the detailed engineering and supply of Chemetics’ CORE-SO2™ technology for the site’s sulphuric acid plant, along with the associated oxygen plant.

Helping Arafura meet its emissions performance and energy transition goals

This sulphuric acid plant will achieve significant sustainability improvements over similar capacity plants, thanks to its ability to idle while keeping the catalyst warm for extended periods of time, and high turnaround capability. It will be able to operate with 95 percent reduced sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions, when compared to traditional double contact double absorption (DCDA) plants.

The high-pressure steam production within the CORE-SO2™ process will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the generation of CO2-free electrical power. This will eliminate the need for a diesel or natural gas start-up burner.

Additionally, CORE-SO2™ is 60 percent smaller than traditional sulphuric acid plants, leading to significant construction advantages. The plant requires fewer pieces of equipment, which allows for increased use of modularization. This will minimize construction and assembly work for the remote mine site, leading to safer and more cost-effective project delivery.

“Arafura Rare Earths is very pleased to be working with Chemetics Inc as a global leader that is able to provide the Nolans Project with highly efficient, robustly engineered and low-emission sulphuric acid technology. This sulphuric acid plant represents a key component in achieving our sustainability goals,” added Stewart Watkins, General Manager Projects at Arafura.

“With this project, we will assist in Arafura’s goal to be a trusted global leader and supplier of choice for sustainably mined and processed rare earth products. With each year of plant operation, more than 700 mt of SO2 will be converted to usable sulphuric acid rather than emitted into the atmosphere,” said Andrew Barr, Chemetics Inc. President.

Worley Chemetics

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