UK rare earth facility to offer a sustainable magnet metal supply chain

January 11, 2021

Saltend Chemicals Park has been selected as the site to build the UK’s first rare earth processing facility (Courtesy Pensana Rare Earths)

Pensana Rare Earths Plc, headquartered in London, UK, has announced that Saltend Chemicals Park, located in the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, has been selected as the proposed site to build the UK’s first rare earth processing facility, with a view to helping create the world’s first fully-sustainable magnet metal supply chain.

Working with Wood Group, a UK engineering consultancy, the processing facility would become one of only two major producers outside China of rare earth oxides used in the manufacture of powerful permanent magnets, critical to the offshore wind and electric vehicle industries. Lynas Corporation of Australia is currently the world’s largest non China-based producer of rare earth oxides from its facility in Malaysia.

Gerry Grimstone, UK Minister for Investment said: “We very much welcome the proposal to establish a fully-sustainable rare earth oxide magnet metal processing facility in the Humber region. This facility is an important step in the establishment of a permanent magnet supply chain in the UK which could support a range of industries important to building back greener and our Net Zero ambitions.”

The Saltend Chemicals Park is home to a number of chemicals and renewable energy businesses, including BP Petrochemicals, Ineos, Nippon Gohsei and Air Products, strategically located on the Humber estuary, a gateway to Europe and the UK’s busiest ports complex.

Paul Atherley, chairman of Pensana Rare Earths stated, “The Saltend Chemicals Park offers an exceptional range of services allowing us to plug into power, water, reagent supplies and services and to recruit a highly-skilled local workforce at internationally competitive rates. It is very clear that it is no longer acceptable for British and European companies to import the raw materials critical to the Green economy from unsustainable sources.”

“The Saltend facility has the potential to become a world-class producer of rare earth oxides and to help establish a sustainable supply chain for the manufacture of powerful permanent magnets critical for the offshore wind and electric vehicle industries in the UK and Europe,” added Atherley.

The company is looking to commence development of the Longonjo mine in Angola, which is being established to international standards as one of the world’s most sustainable rare earth mines. This will supply the UK facility with mixed rare earth sulphates to process into separated magnet metal oxides.

Detailed discussions with local councils and planning agents have confirmed that, subject to a final investment decision and funding being available, the necessary planning permission for the proposed UK facility can potentially be obtained with sufficient time for it to be constructed in line with the Longonjo mine development.

The company has commenced discussion with the UK’s Department for International Trade regarding the establishment of a sustainable permanent magnet supply chain in the UK and is working with the various initiatives supporting the electric vehicle industry and the offshore wind industry in the UK.

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