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Full time operations under way at Ionic's UK magnet recycling demonstration plant

22nd January 2024

By: Tasneem Bulbulia

Senior Contributing Editor Online


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ASX-listed Ionic Rare Earths’ 100%-owned subsidiary Ionic Technologies International has started operations in Belfast, in the UK.

Ionic Technologies is a global player in the recycling of neodymium/iron/boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets to high-purity separated magnet rare earth oxides (REOs) – enabling the creation of sustainable, traceable and sovereign rare earth supply chains, the company points out.

During 2023, Ionic Technologies built a magnet recycling demonstration plant and produced quantities of high-purity (> 99.5%) neodymium (Nd) and dysprosium (Dy), it adds.

Ionic Technologies is now operating the demonstration plant on a continuous basis, with the intention to produce high-purity separated REOs at the design production capacity of 10 t/y, from 30 t/y of end-of-life permanent magnets or production swarf.

This production will flow immediately into the UK government-supported CLIMATES collaboration with Ford Technologies and Less Common Metals (LCM).

Ionic MD Tim Harrison says the continuous operation of the demonstration plant has allowed the company to deepen supply chain relationships and provided additional data to support the completion of the feasibility study on a commercial plant in Belfast.

“The commencement of 24/7 operation in Belfast is a major technical achievement for the Ionic Technologies team.

“It is an important step forward for Ionic Rare Earths in mining, refining and recycling the magnet and heavy rare earths critical for the energy transition, advanced manufacturing, and defence,” he notes.

“The continuous operation enables the production of samples and verification data, supports sector relationships, as well as new strategic partner relationships.

“This cements our position in the emergence of alternative, secure and traceable supply of magnet and heavy rare earths to market,” he posits.

Harrison explains that the continuous operation was de-risking the technology and the flowsheet, as well as evaluating the robustness of the process in taking variable feedstocks of magnets with variable magnet rare earth distribution, coated or oxidised magnets, and swarf material from metal-to-magnet manufacturing, and producing high-purity magnet REOs.

“This demonstration plant, operating 24/7, will soon be hosting potential strategic partners looking to get access to sustainably produced magnet rare earths in a market where demand is expected to quickly outstrip supply,” Harrison says.

“We look forward to supplying our collaboration partners, LCM and Ford, with scaled up downstream value addition all the way to permanent magnets and demonstrating a circular magnet rare earth supply chain.

“The demonstration plant is also validating data for the feasibility study under way for a commercial plant to be located in Belfast, with the potential for turnkey plants in our key focus markets,” he avers. 

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online




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