Tools alloyed with vanadium
Tools alloyed with vanadium

New Technique Curbing Vanadium Imports

Vanadium is an economically important metal in the EU. To produce vanadium in Europe, raw materials must be imported, despite the existence of several unused vanadium resources in the EU. Researchers now intend to use these resources.  

Vanadium is an important metal for EU industries, which account for 13 % of global consumption. The metal is used to produce, for instance, tool steel. Vanadium production in Europe relies on the import of raw materials, while resources within the EU go unused.

Profitable extraction with new technology

Several iron ore deposits – primarily in Scandinavia – also contain vanadium. The deposits are generally small compared to more common deposits and also contain other metals, which complicates iron extraction. Mining is often only profitable if vanadium can also be extracted as a by-product of the iron. To make deposit exploitation more profitable, vanadium-rich secondary material can be processed along with the iron ore. Swerea is developing a new technique to exploit these rich sources of vanadium in an economical and eco-friendly manner. This method can potentially curb the EU's import needs by up to 90 percent.

Funds for a new project

Swerea has received SEK 3 million from Vinnova, and around SEK 400,000 from the mineral and metal company Mustavaaran Kaivos Oy, the project's industrial partner, to develop methods to extract vanadium.

"The project consortium has developed and optimised processes which can be used not only for iron ore containing vanadium, but for new vanadium sources such as slag from the steel industry. This can have great significance for the vanadium industry in Europe," says Jukka Pitkäjärvi, CEO of Mustavaaran Kaivos Oy.