Aclara and Vacuumschmelze partner to develop permanent magnet supply chain

July 10, 2024

Vacuumschmelze’s VACOMAX is a permanent magnet material made from rare-earths and cobalt (Courtesy Vacuumschmelze)

Aclara Resources Inc, Las Condes, Chile, has announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Vacuumschmelze GmbH & Co. KG (VAC), a producer of advanced magnetic materials and rare earth permanent magnets headquartered in Hanau, Germany. The agreement establishes a non-binding, non-exclusive, preliminary agreement to jointly approach potential clients as a ‘mine-to-magnets’ solution for ESG-compliant permanent magnets.

Aclara and VAC believe that there is a significant market opportunity driven by the rising demand for electric vehicles, wind turbines, and other clean technologies that require rare earth permanent magnets produced pursuant to ever-increasing ESG standards. Such permanent magnets require significant quantities of both light and heavy rare earth minerals. Currently, obtaining these rare earth mineral materials, whilst also having the capacity to process them and the industrial technology needed to fabricate permanent magnets, is very limited and concentrated among a few Asia-based suppliers.

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“We are thrilled to announce the fortification of our partnership with Aclara, a frontrunner in the development of ionic clay mines in South America,” stated Erik Eschen, CEO of VAC. “This collaboration is aimed at streamlining the supply chain for rare earth elements, specifically Dysprosium and Terbium. These elements play a pivotal role in the decarbonisation of the transportation sector and the generation of renewable energy. By joining forces with Aclara, VAC is committed to tackling one of the most pressing issues of our era. Our joint efforts not only create value for our customers and shareholders but also contribute significantly to the well-being of our planet.”

VAC and Aclara are two of the very few potential suppliers of dysprosium and terbium. These heavy rare earth minerals are key in the production of permanent magnets and are reportedly not easily available outside of Asia. Aclara is currently developing two ionic clay projects – one in Chile and another in Brazil – for the production of a high-purity heavy rare earth carbonate. In addition, the company is developing processing technology through its US-based subsidiary to be able to receive this carbonate and produce magnetic alloys with it. These alloys, in turn, are the key input required by VAC to produce permanent magnets.

Aclara’s CEO, Ramon Barua, added, “This strategic alliance is expected to offer great synergies to both Aclara and VAC as it combines a clean source of heavy rare earths with the technology needed to convert those resources into actual products. It is the first step towards solving a real need in the market, as the transition to electric vehicles requires new rare earths supply chains, which are currently not being addressed in a comprehensive manner. This strategic alliance will create value for VAC, Aclara, OEMs and for our planet, as we will be closer to achieving our climate change goals in a sustainable manner.”

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