Latrobe Magnesium has secured another patent — this time in India — for its process that recovers magnesium from coal waste.

The minnow (ASX:LMG) is building a magnesium plant in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley and another plant in Germany using a “world-first patented extraction process”.

It plans to extract magnesium metal and other material from fly ash — a waste product from brown coal power generation.

Magnesium is alloyed with aluminium because it is lightweight and makes aluminium stronger.

A year or two ago Tata Motors, the owner of Jaguar and Land Rover, spent £$1.8 billion ($3.2 billion) on retooling in the UK to put aluminium sheets in its vehicles.

To make these aluminium sheets requires about 5 to 6 per cent magnesium as an alloy.

“They’ve publicly come out and said they’re not going to buy mag from China because they produce too much CO2 in the initial phase of primary production,” Latrobe chief David Paterson told Stockhead.

Latrobe Magnesium (ASX:LMG) shares over the past year.
Latrobe Magnesium (ASX:LMG) shares over the past year.

Annual demand for magnesium is currently only about 1 million tonnes, but with car makers looking to drastically reduce CO2 emissions by switching to aluminium sheets, that is expected to grow.

China currently produces 86 per cent of the world’s magnesium.

Latrobe’s hydromet process is designed to produce at least 60 per cent less carbon emissions than Chinese magnesium.

“The aluminium guys are projecting the demand in the mag market will double by the mid-20s and that’s purely because of their increase in aluminium sheet usage,” Mr Paterson said.

Latrobe has already been granted patents for the process in Australia, Europe, the US, China and Indonesia.

India also has a dependency on brown coal and is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions in both its car and power generation industries.

“The areas where we have the patents are basically the biggest brown coal and lignite deposits in the world,” Mr Paterson said.

With the new patent now granted, the company plans to investigate its potential licencing opportunities in India, including building a plant, partnering or licencing the tech to other parties.

Until now Latrobe has focused on Victoria and Germany, but it is also now in talks with interested parties from other European countries and China.

The company is aiming to complete a bankable feasibility study on a 3000-tonne-per-annum plant by June this year, with construction penned in for December.