Rare earth metals company Pensana Plc, headquartered in London, UK, has received approval by the local council to install a £150 million rare earth refinery at Saltend Chemicals Park, located in the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership in Yorkshire. The plant, the plans of which were announced in early 2021, is intended to lighten the UK’s reliance on rare earth imports from China.
Pensana seeks to refine rare earths, used in the creation of magnets in electric vehicles and wind turbines. A representative from Pensana told councillors that currently 90% of the world’s magnets were produced in China, and their near monopoly meant they could dictate prices and limit exports. Electric cars need roughly a kilogram of magnets, while a 260 m wind turbine can use some seven tonnes.
The UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced that £4 million from the the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) would be granted to the project, in hopes to bolster further private investment to fund the plant, which has the potential to create over 100 jobs. The ATF is intended to industrialise the electric automotive supply chain in the UK.
“We are investing heavily to ensure the UK remains one of the best locations in the world for automotive manufacturing,” stated a BEIS spokesperson. “Through our £850 million Automotive Transformation Fund, we are dedicated to securing a globally competitive automotive sector in Yorkshire and across the UK. Developing secure supply chains in critical minerals and battery components is central to this.”
Paul Atherley, Pensana chairman, added, “We are delighted that the strategic importance of Pensana’s Saltend facility has been recognised by the East Riding Council and that the planning application for a larger site within the Saltend Chemical Park, has been approved. The larger site will allow for the expansion into further downstream production as part of our creation of a world-class independent and sustainable supply of rare earth metals vital for electric vehicles, offshore wind and other strategic industries.”