Mine to Magnet from South to North America?

by | 10. Jul 2024 - 09:47 | Economy

Vacuumschmelze and Aclara want to establish a value chain for rare earth magnets.

Chilean mining company Aclara Resources and German magnet manufacturer Vacuumschmelze (VAC) want to join forces. On Tuesday, the two companies announced a strategic partnership (PDF) to establish a value chain for permanent magnets made from rare earths.

Aclara is currently developing mining projects in Chile and Brazil to extract the raw materials from so-called ion adsorption clays, a type of deposit that has so far been exploited almost exclusively in Myanmar and China. These clays are particularly important sources of heavy rare earths such as dysprosium and terbium. Both elements increase the performance of magnets and are, therefore, almost indispensable for many applications, such as electromobility.

The raw materials extracted and pre-processed in South America could then be processed into magnetic alloys in the United States, where Aclara is developing the necessary processing technology. This is where VAC would come into play; the company is considered the most important magnet manufacturer outside of Asia. The headquarters in Hanau, Germany, will be augmented by a magnet factory in the United States in 2025. The first customers of the plant in South Carolina include car manufacturer General Motors. The automotive company will source magnets for its electric vehicle supply chain from VAC.

For logistical reasons, the facility would be predestined as a stopover for Aclara’s products. Thus, a complete value chain for permanent magnets on the American double continent would be within reach.

Photo: iStock/Michael Ien Cohen

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