Rare Earths: Cyclic Materials Signs Supply Agreement With Solvay

by | 19. Jun 2024 - 08:32 | Economy

Rare earths recycled in Canada will be further refined and separated in La Rochelle, France.

Canadian magnet recycling start-up Cyclic Materials signed a supply agreement with Belgian chemical company Solvay over mixed rare earth oxides, the companies announced. Cyclic Materials recovers rare earths from end-of-life products and reclaimed magnets at its Hub100 facility in Ontario, Canada.

The process produces a mix of rare earth element oxides or MREO. This mixture needs to be further separated into individual rare earths before elements such as neodymium or praseodymium can be reused in magnet production. These rare earth magnets are used in fields like electric vehicles or wind turbines, for example. Solvay will separate and refine the MREO into individual rare earth oxides at its plant in La Rochelle, France, to supply European magnet producers. The first shipments from Ontario to La Rochelle are expected to begin in late 2024.

Solvay’s La Rochelle plant in France opened in 1948 and currently produces roughly 4,000 tons of rare earth products, primarily those used in exhaust gas catalysts. In 2022, the company announced plans to expand operations to a broader range of rare earths.

Magnet Recycling Increasingly Relevant

Feedstock suppliers for Cyclic Material’s operation include the U.S. subsidiary of German magnet manufacturer Vacuumschmelze, which signed an agreement with Cyclic Materials earlier this year (we reported). The startup was founded in 2021, and investors included names such as the German car manufacturer BMW.

Similar to Cyclic Material’s Hub100, German technology and chemical company Heraeus commissioned a rare earth magnet recycling facility last month. According to the company, the plant is Europe’s largest, with the capacity to reclaim 600 tons per year, possibly even 1,200 tons. Heraeus added that more than 30 percent of Europe’s demand for rare earths could be covered through recycling. 

Photo: TRADIUM GmbH

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