Rare earth recycling company HyProMag, Birmingham, UK, formed by researchers from the University of Birmingham’s School of Metallurgy and Materials, is set to be acquired by Maginito Ltd, a subsidiary of Mkango Resources, Vancouver, Canada. This acquisition is expected to allow the company’s technology to scale internationally and form the basis for the full-scale rare earth magnet manufacturing facility planned for Tyseley Energy Park, Birmingham, later this year.
Professor Allan Walton, Head of the Magnetic Materials Group at the University of Birmingham, and co-founder of HyProMag stated, “Rare earth magnets are one of the building block materials for clean growth, but the recycling rates for these magnets are very low (<5%). The technologies developed in the MMG target the key challenges in order to efficiently extract these materials from a wide range of scrap sources, and to re-process these materials with a minimal environmental impact compared to primary production.”
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“Mkango/Maginito have been a strategic partner for both the University and Hypromag since 2018, with multiple joint research projects in the UK and EU. Over the last two years these projects have taken the HPMS process up the TRL levels to de-risk the technology. The investment from Maginito paves the way to fully commercialise the HPMS process and to take this technology to the global market,” he added.
A pilot plant for Hydrogen Processing of Magnet Scrap (HPMS) recycling opened at the University of Birmingham in 2022, and work is now underway to build a large scale ‘short loop’ recycling facility at Tyseley, as well as other locations, using the patented HPMS process to provide a sustainable solution for the supply of NdFeB magnets and alloys across a range of markets.
Such ‘short loop’ magnet recycling is expected to have significant environmental benefit, reportedly requiring an estimated 88% less energy versus primary mining to in order to produce a sintered magnet. First production is expected in the UK in 2023 and Germany in 2024.
The Tyseley plant is being developed with the University of Birmingham and is expected to have a minimum production capacity of 100 tonnes a year. The £4.3 million project is being funded by Driving the Electric Revolution, an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund delivered by UK Research and Innovation.
Dr Jerel Whittingham, Head of Enterprise Acceleration at University of Birmingham Enterprise, shared, “The strategic, economic and environmental importance of recycling rare earth metals is now widely recognised and it has been pleasing to note the continuing growth of HyProMag’s partnership with Mkango since the company was established in 2018, using IP developed at the University of Birmingham. The acquisition of HyProMag, including its facility at Tyseley Energy Park, is the ultimate validation of the value they have identified in HyProMag’s unique capabilities.”