GE Renewable Energy and Arafura Resources to establish sustainable rare earths supply chain

July 13, 2022

Nolans is the only NdPr ore-to-oxide project in Australia with all approval in place to manage hazardous waste (Courtesy Arafura Resources Limited)
Nolans is the only NdPr ore-to-oxide project in Australia with all approval in place to manage hazardous waste (Courtesy Arafura Resources Limited)

GE Renewable Energy has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Arafura Resources Limited, a mineral exploration and development company headquartered in Perth, Australia, to jointly establish a sustainable supply chain for neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr). The long-term agreement will reportedly enable GE to purchase NdPr from Arafura’s Nolans Project in central Australia.

Rare earths are essential materials for NdFeB magnets used in electric vehicles and clean energy technologies, with magnets an essential component for the offshore wind industry, consuming over 600 kg of NdFeB magnets for every MW of wind turbine generation capacity. GE states that a secured rare earths supply for GE de-risks the magnet value chain, provides supply security and supports the growth of the local offshore wind sector.

The Nolans Project is a significant resource for NdPr with the capacity to support a value chain supplying nearly 5% of the global demand over a projected life of mine of thirty-eight years with expansion potential. With its ore to oxide business model that includes waste management certainty, it provides customers with a product supply chain that is both transparent and traceable.

The MoU recognises the strategic nature of NdPr as a critical mineral and charts a path for GE and Arafura to jointly co-operate in the establishment of a diversified and sustainable supply chain. The engagement between GE and Arafura will help strengthen the supply of sustainable materials critical to the energy transition objectives of GE customers in the EU, US and Australia. Arafura is focused on establishing itself as GE’s preferred NdPr partner for renewables in the EU, US and other key markets. The MoU also outlines a potential strategic equity investment by GE in Arafura that will be considered and negotiated in the future.

The agreement was announced at the Sydney Energy Forum hosted by the Australian Government and the International Energy Agency which focuses on securing clean energy supply for the Indo-Pacific. Having GE as another foundational offtake partner will reportedly provide Arafura with product sales diversification both geographically and into new sectors such as the offshore wind turbine market.

“The signing of this MoU to collaborate with a Tier 1 OEM is a terrific outcome. Long-term Nolans NdPr may be used in magnets critical for power generation from GE’s Haliade-X 12 MW, one of the most powerful offshore wind turbines on the market,” commented Gavin Lockyer, Arafura’s Managing Director and CEO. “It is very gratifying that a new supply chain model, along with transparency of the value chain, will ensure we know exactly where our NdPr will be used, whether it is in a particular EV model or a series of wind turbine. The contribution of Nolans NdPr to enable clean energy technologies to decarbonise the world is becoming more and more apparent.”

Danielle Merfeld, GE Renewable Energy vice president and chief technology officer, stated, “This MoU is another example of our efforts to develop strategic collaborations that can help us accelerate the energy transition. Working with Arafura gives us a new and exciting option to obtain reliable, sustainable, and competitive sources of key materials going forward that will help us lower the cost of renewable energy.”

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