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EMD plant in 2002

A DEMONSTRATION plant producing electrolytic manganese dioxide, the main ingredient in alkaline batteries, has been commissioned at Murdoch University.

The plant, the world’s first new EMD production facility in 10 years, uses a sulphur dioxide leach rather than the more traditional roasting technique, making production easier to monitor and control, and more environmentally acceptable.

As the roasting technique produces large quantities of carbon dioxide, environment issues have prevented EMD producers in developed nations from expanding their operations.

HiTec Energy, which funded the $2 million Murdoch facility, will relocate the plant to Port Hedland from a full-scale operation next year, to produce between two and three kilograms of EMD per day by 2004.

The company is aiming to produce environmentally safe and high quality EMD at low cost for a market that consumed 270,000 tonnes last year.

EMD is predicted to be in short supply by 2003 and, using the sulphur technique, HiTec is looking to achieve a “high net margin on sales” in a market with “very strong growth potential”.

The company said its primary focus would be EMD production from its $209 million Port Hedland electrofuel project. It planned to use ore from its own Ant Hill mine and Consolidated Minerals’ Woodie Woodie mine south east of Marble Bar.

The sulphur technique was developed by scientists at the AJ Parker Co-operative Research Centre for Hydro-metallurgy.

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