Mkango Resources, headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, and Grupa Azoty Puławy, Puławy, Poland, have agreed to work together towards the development of a rare earths separation plant in Poland. Following on from this collaboration, Mkango has established a Polish subsidiary, Mkango Polska, to develop the plant and investigate other business opportunities in the country. Engagement with financial institutions is underway to accelerate development, and additional strategic partnerships, downstream developments and marketing opportunities are also being evaluated.
Grupa Azoty Puławy is part of the Grupa Azoty Group, reputedly the European Union’s second largest manufacturer of nitrogen and compound fertilisers, and a major chemicals producer.
The parties have signed an exclusive lease option agreement for a site adjacent to Grupa Azoty Puławy’s large-scale fertiliser and chemicals complex, which provides infrastructure, access to reagents and utilities on site, and an attractive operating environment, resulting in a highly-competitive operating cost position for the plant.
Located within a Polish Special Economic Zone, the Puławy site provides access to European production from the plant that will strengthen Europe’s security of supply for rare earths used in electric vehicles, wind turbines and other green technology and strategic applications, and aligns with EU initiatives to create more robust, diversified supply chains.
Feasibility studies for the plant are being undertaken in parallel with Mkango’s Songwe Hill rare earths project in Malawi and other opportunities, including Mkango’s interest in HyProMag Limited, which is developing production of short loop recycled rare earth magnets in the UK.
“Development of this Plant will underline Mkango’s unique positioning in the rare earths sector. Our integrated ‘mine, refine, recycle’ strategy, encompassing sustainably sourced light (NdPr) and heavy (Dy/Tb) rare earths from Malawi and rare earth magnet (NdFeB) recycling in the UK, via our interest in HyProMag, is now enhanced by the opportunity to create a rare earths separation and downstream hub in Poland, working with one of Europe’s largest chemical and fertilizer companies,” stated William Dawes, Chief Executive of Mkango.
“Rare earths are a vital component of magnets required in many technologies needed for the green energy transition. Therefore, their security of supply is becoming increasingly important to governments worldwide, especially in Europe and the US. We have carried out extensive due diligence on the site and believe the development of the Plant in Poland will enhance the sustainable supply of rare earths into Europe, as well as bringing significant benefits to the region, creating new jobs and potential, additional, downstream developments,” continued Dawes.
Mkango’s Polish plant is expected to initially produce approximately 2,000 tonnes per year of neodymium, praseodymium and/or didymium (NdPr) oxides, as well as a heavy rare earth enriched carbonate, containing approximately 50 tonnes per year of dysprosium and terbium oxides. It is also anticipated to produce lanthanum cerium carbonate.
The company is evaluating marketing and processing options for the heavy rare earth enriched carbonate and lanthanum cerium carbonate. The plant hopes to use best-in-class, conventional and proven technology, and will benefit from the rail and road infrastructure as well as the direct supply of the required processing reagents from Grupa Azoty Puławy. It will also have access to a local skilled workforce, on-site engineering and project development expertise and R&D science institutes.
“We very much look forward to working with Grupa Azoty PULAWY and our partners worldwide to create value for all stakeholders and contribute to development of a more robust and sustainable rare earths supply chain,” concluded Dawes.