Rare Earths: UK Working on Its Own Value Chain

by | 12. Sep 2023 - 12:54 | Economy

Ionic Rare Earths and LMC are increasing efforts to recycle and reuse raw materials from old magnets.

The United Kingdom wants to create a domestic supply chain for rare earths from recycled magnets. For this purpose, the magnet recycling division of mining company Ionic Rare Earths, Ionic Technologies, alloy producer Less Common Metals Ltd (LCM), and automotive manufacturer Ford Technologies Limited (Ford) have agreed to collaborate, as announced Tuesday (PDF). The British Geological Survey will also be involved as part of a feasibility study for construction and supply through the magnetic recycling plant. The British government will support this cooperation with two million pounds (2.5 million dollars).

The investment will support the construction of the first rare earth magnet recycling plant in Belfast by Ionic Technologies and support the development of market-leading indigenous technology. The plant will produce high-purity, separated rare earth metals from recycled magnets, which will be processed into alloys by LCM in the next step and eventually used in NdFeB magnets. The magnets produced will then be installed in Ford electric vehicles.

The companies receive government funding under the Critical Materials for Magnet Competition program, which in turn is part of the Circular Critical Materials Supply Chains (CLIMATES) fund. One of the aims of this program is to promote the recycling of rare earth metals in the UK (we reported).

Further Cooperation Between LMC and Rainbow Rare Earths

On Tuesday, the alloy and magnet producer LCM also announced a cooperation with the mining company Rainbow Rare Earths, based on the British Channel Island of Guernsey. The cooperation involves the supply of rare earth oxides. These are then processed into alloys by LMC. According to the company, LCM’s plant is not only the only one in the United Kingdom producing rare earth metals and alloys but also one of only a few in the Western world. Globally, both mining and processing of this group of raw materials are dominated by China.

Photo: iStock/LUNAMARINA

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.