Molycorp announces rare earth supply agreement with Hitachi Metals

August 23, 2011

Molycorp, Inc., headquartered in Colorado, USA, has announced that it has reached an agreement with Hitachi Metals, Japan, to supply the company with rare earth magnetic materials, including Didymium (a mix of neodymium and praseodymium) metal and alloy, as well as Lanthanum Oxide.

The three-year deal, which extends and expands upon an existing supply relationship between the companies, significantly increases the amount of rare earth materials that Molycorp will provide Hitachi Metals. The volume begins at a level comparable to the companies’ current agreement and grows substantially when Molycorp reaches its Phase 1 production level in 2012 at its rare earth production facility at Mountain Pass, California.

“We are very pleased to be moving forward with this significant supply agreement to produce high-quality rare earth products for Hitachi Metals,” stated Mark A. Smith, President and CEO of Molycorp. “Hitachi Metals has a long standing reputation as a global leader in the development and manufacture of advanced technology products that require rare earth materials, and we look forward to playing a very prominent role in their production supply chain.”

The company states that oxide and metal production at the Molycorp Silmet facility in Estonia and the alloy production at the Molycorp Metals and Alloys facility in Tolleson, Arizona, will enable the them to produce the upgraded magnetic materials necessary to meet a significant portion of Hitachi Metals’ global requirements when Molycorp reaches its full, Phase 1 production levels at Mountain Pass.

Separately, Molycorp and Hitachi Metals announced that they are suspending discussions for now on their December 2010 letter of intent to create a joint venture in the U.S. to manufacture neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) alloy and permanent magnets made from the alloy. The companies were unable to reach agreement on certain key matters affecting the value of the joint venture to each party.

“We remain fully committed to producing rare earth permanent magnets and to capturing the highest value of our rare earth materials throughout the supply chain,” said Smith. “In fact, we have been in advanced discussions with other companies regarding magnet joint venture opportunities for some time, and we look forward to sharing more details on these developments in the near future.” 

Edited by: Paul Whittaker, Editor, [email protected]   

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