Ionic Rare Earths Limited (ASX:IXR) Magnet Recycling Moves to 24-7 Operations in Belfast – ABN Newswire

Ionic Rare Earths Limited (ASX:IXR) Magnet Recycling Moves to 24-7 Operations in Belfast – ABN Newswire

Magnet Recycling Moves to 24-7 Operations in Belfast
Magnet Recycling Moves to 24-7 Operations in Belfast

Perth, Jan 22, 2024 AEST (ABN Newswire) – The Board of Ionic Rare Earths Limited (googlechartASX:IXR) (googlechartIXRRF:OTCMKTS) is pleased to advise the commencement of 24/7 operations at Ionic Technologies International Ltd (“Ionic Technologies”), a 100% owned subsidiary based in Belfast, UK.

Ionic Technologies is a global first mover 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.

During 2023, Ionic Technologies constructed a magnet recycling Demonstration Plant and produced quantities of high purity (> 99.5%) neodymium (Nd) and dysprosium (Dy) rare earth oxides (REOs) (ASX 19 June 2023).

Ionic Technologies is now operating the Demonstration Plant on a continuous basis, with the intention to produce high purity separated rare earth oxides at the design production capacity of 10 tonnes per annum, from 30 tonnes per annum 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 Rare Earths Managing Director, Mr Tim Harrison, said the continuous operation allowed the Company to deepen supply chain relationships and provided additional data to support the completion of the feasibility study on a commercial plant located in Belfast, UK.

“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,” Harrison said.

“The continuous operation enables the production of samples and verification data, supports sector relationships, plus 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.”

Harrison said the continuous operation was de-risking the technology and the flowsheet, plus 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.”

“We look forward to supplying our collaboration partners, LCM and Ford, for 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 underway for a commercial plant to be located in Belfast, UK, with the potential for turnkey plants in our key focus markets.”

Demonstration Plant Background

In September 2022, the UK Government’s Innovate UK Automotive Transformation Fund Scale up Readiness Validation (“SuRV”) program, coordinated by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), awarded a GBP1.72 million grant (A$2.90 million) to Ionic Technologies to build a demonstration magnet recycling plant to produce separated magnet rare earth oxides (REOs), a first for the UK, as a scale up of successful previous pilot campaigns using the Company’s patented technology.

On 12 September 2023, Ionic Technologies announced it had successfully secured additional funding for two Innovate UK CLIMATES grants from the totalling GBP2 million (A$3.90 million). The successful grant funding submissions centred on two CLIMATES projects:

1. in partnership with Less Common Metals (LCM) and Ford Technologies, Ionic Technologies will develop a traceable, circular supply chain of rare earths for application in EV motors within the UK; and

2. in partnership with the British Geological Survey, Ionic Technologies has commenced a feasibility study for a commercial magnet recycling plant in Belfast, UK (refer ASX announcement 7 December 2023).

Ionic Technologies has established technical and operational teams to both operate the plant and support continued technical optimisation programs, enabling 24/7 operation of the Demonstration Plant. Production schedules are now in place, to ensure maximised asset usage, safe operation and to fulfil supply chain demand for production campaigns to both committed collaboration partners and new partnerships the Company is exploring.

To date, approximately 2.7 tonnes of permanent magnets have been processed through front end operations, enabling the commencement of the digestion circuit for treatment and solid-liquid separation.

The separation circuit has been water commissioned and feed to the circuit is expected to start over the next two weeks.

Simultaneously, Ionic Technologies is readying capability to complete Dysprosium (Dy) and Terbium (Tb) separation utilising the existing mixer-settler pilot plant equipment. This complex separation of Heavy Rare Earths provides supply chain partners with high purity (99.5% or above) Heavy Rare Earth Oxides to be used in developing grain boundary diffused (GBD) sintered permanent magnet production.

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About Ionic Rare Earths Limited

Ionic Rare Earths ASX:IXRIonic Rare Earths Limited (ASX:IXR) (OTCMKTS:IXRRF) is focused on developing its flagship Makuutu Rare Earths Project in Uganda into a significant long life, low-cost, supplier of high-value critical and heavy rare earths.

Makuutu is an advanced-stage, ionic adsorption clay-hosted project highlighted by near-surface mineralisation, significant exploration upside, excellent metallurgical characteristics and access to tier-one infrastructure.

The ionic adsorption clay-hosted geology at Makuutu is similar to major rare earths projects in Southern China, which are responsible for the majority of global supply of low cost heavy and critical rare earths, specifically the high value magnet metals (Dysprosium and Terbium) Heavy Rare Earths (>98% originating from ionic clays). Metallurgical testing at Makuutu has returned excellent recovery rates, which provide multiple avenues for a simple process route.

Makuutu is well-supported by tier-one existing infrastructure which includes access to major highways, roads, power, water and a professional workforce.

Rare Earths will play a critical role in the future of clean energy. Rare Earths are a key ingredient in the permanent magnets found in wind turbines and electric vehicles.

IonicRE is led by an experienced and proven team, who have the capabilities to deliver Makuutu into production and realise value for all stakeholders. 

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