Rare Earth Magnets: LS Cable and VAC Launch Joint Venture

by | 14. Feb 2024 - 10:42 | Economy

The South Korean cable manufacturer wants to supply neodymium from 2024 and diversify its supply chains with Europe’s leading permanent magnet manufacturer.

Demand for permanent magnets containing rare earths is growing steadily, but China has held a virtual monopoly on producing these components, essential for the transitions in energy and transportation. Now, a possible alternative could develop: The South Korean cable manufacturer LS Cable & System and the German magnet manufacturer Vacuumschmelze (VAC) have announced a joint venture to this effect. This was reported by the newspaper Aju Korea Daily, among others.

Specifically, the subsidiary LS Eco Advanced Material, a producer of copper wires for electric motors in Hyundai and Kia vehicles, has signed a letter of intent with Europe’s market leader for permanent magnets. The aim is to supply 1,000 tons of neodymium magnets annually from 2027, enough for around 500,000 electric cars. According to Aju, only around ten companies outside of China manufacture these high-tech components.

According to Korea IT Times, LS Eco Energy will start supplying neodymium this year and is also considering building a factory for rare earth metals in Vietnam, CEO Lee Sang-ho said. LS Cable recently signed a purchase agreement for rare earths with the Vietnamese mining company Hung Thinh Mineral, starting with 200 tons in the current year. Vietnam has the second-largest rare earth deposits after China and intends to significantly expand its mining and processing activities. VAC is also playing an important role in establishing its western supply chains and is currently building a plant for rare earth magnets in the U.S. (we reported). It would be only the second factory in the United States.

Photo: iStock/xiao zhou

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