Keliber lithium mine waste streams to be utilised as aggregate in high tech concrete production facility

Quickly developed material technology company Betolar and JA-KO Betoni, a company reforming the concrete industry, are assisting Keliber, which is preparing a lithium mine in Kaustinen, Finland, in utilising the massive side streams typically produced in the mining industry. Tailings produced as a side stream in Keliber’s minerals processing and analcime sand produced later in the lithium production process will be used in concrete production as aggregate at JA-KO Betoni’s plant in Kokkola, Finland.

The Geoprime® solution developed by Betolar will replace cement used as a binder in concrete production with blast furnace slag produced through a steel industry side stream in Raahe, Finland. Replacing cement will significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Low-carbon concrete can be used, for example, in the structures of Keliber’s mine.

“Significant environmental benefits arise in two ways. Firstly, replacing cement with materials refined from industrial side streams will drastically cut CO2 emissions from the raw material, to as much as one-fifth of current levels. Secondly, the use of side streams as the aggregate for concrete instead of natural rock material significantly reduces the use of virgin natural resources,” says Innovation Director Juha Leppänen, the Founder of Betolar.

Different side streams, which must be reused or deposited, are produced in mining activities. Most of these side streams are put in a waste rock stockpile at the mining site. Material reuse saves virgin natural resources. From Betolar’s perspective, side stream materials are important future raw material sources whose utilisation in the more extensive industrial scale has only just started.

“We wanted to ensure well in advance that the environmental impact of our lithium mines will be as low as possible. Our future side streams will not only be environmentally safe but will also enable the creation of new products and reduction of the use of virgin raw materials,” says Hannu Hautala, CEO at Keliber.

The concrete industry produces a significant proportion of human CO2 emissions. The proportion of cement used in concrete production amounts globally to approximately seven per cent of the CO2 emissions whereas the proportion, for example, of air traffic in normal times amounts to 2-3%. With Betolar’s solution, it is possible to reduce the CO2 emissions of raw materials by up to 80% in many concrete industry product groups.

“The concrete industry needs new solutions to reduce emissions. Together with Betolar, we are developing several products in which cement is replaced with binders that are considerably less burdensome for the environment. We will invest in the production of new, more environmentally-friendly concrete products in Kokkola, Finland, which will create significant competitive advantage for our industry,” says Jaakko Eloranta, CEO at JA-KO BetoniBetolar – Keliber – JA-KO Betoni.