Europe’s Largest Recycling Plant for Rare Earth Magnets Starts Operations

by | 14. May 2024 - 09:46 | Technologies

Heraeus Remloy promises the same quality with less CO2 consumption.

Wind turbines, electric cars, consumer electronics: Magnets, often made from rare earths such as neodymium, have become an integral part of many technologies. Demand is constantly increasing, along with a growing dependency on China, the largest producer. Currently, 98 percent of the permanent magnets required for the traction motors of electric cars come from China.

One way to reduce the need for imports is to recycle components from devices that have reached their end of life (EOL). According to data from the consulting firm Adamas Intelligence, the EOL products discarded in 2023 contained around 21,000 tons of powerful neodymium-iron-boron magnets. However, less than one percent of these are returned to the material cycle. There is, therefore, huge potential here, and the European Union’s Critical Raw Materials Act will also see fixed quotas for the recycling of strategic raw materials come into force by 2030. This is where the technology company Heraeus comes in with a new recycling plant for rare earth magnets, which has just started production. The Heraeus Remloy division has developed a new process that promises the same quality of end products but requires significantly fewer resources than the primary production of magnets. According to the press release, the plant’s processing capacity in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Saxony-Anhalt, is 600 tons per year but could be increased to 1,200 tons.

Recycling process (Image: Heraeus Remloy)

According to the company, more than 30 percent of European demand could be covered by magnet recycling. This is good news for the local industry, as there is currently no rare earth mining in Europe. The Critical Raw Materials Act has also set fixed targets for this, but lengthy approval procedures are currently slowing down the development of existing deposits.

Featured image: Heraeus Remloy

Starting Soon: Rawmaterials Newsletter

Subscribe now and stay up to date!

Subscribe Now!
Stay up to date with our brand new newsletter.
By subscribing, you agree that the data you enter will be transmitted to our e-mail tool rapidmail.