Ionic Rare Earths magnet recycling plant now operating 24/7 – Proactive Investors Australia

Ionic Rare Earths magnet recycling plant now operating 24/7 – Proactive Investors Australia

Ionic Rare Earths Ltd (ASX:IXR, OTC:IXRRF) subsidiary Ionic Technologies International is now operating its magnet recycling demonstration plant in Belfast, UK, around the clock. 

Production from the continuous operation at the plant will be fed directly into Ionic’s UK government-sponsored project with Ford Technologies and Less Common Metals (LCM), a partnership in which Ionic Technologies is developing a traceable, circular supply chain of rare earths for application in electric vehicle motors in the UK.

Last year Ionic Technologies constructed the magnet recycling demonstration plant, producing quantities of high purity (>99.5%) neodymium and dysprosium rare earth oxides. To date, it has processed around 2.7 tonnes of permanent magnets through front-end operations, enabling the commencement of the digestion circuit for treatment and solid-liquid separation. 

Now operating the demonstration plant on a continuous basis, the company intends 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. 

“Major technical achievement”

Ionic Rare Earths managing director Tim Harrison said the continuous operation allowed the company to deepen supply chain relationships and provided additional data to help complete a feasibility study on a commercial plant in Belfast. 

Harrison said, “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.

“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. 

Hosting potential strategic partners

“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.”

Ionic Technologies, a first-mover

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. 

Last September, Ionic Technologies announced collaboration partnerships — with the support of the UK Government — to build a domestic UK supply chain from recycled REOs to metals, alloys and magnets and supplying UK-based electric vehicle manufacturing, with potential to replicate across other key markets.

The company says that other supply chain collaborations with rare earth metal, alloy, and magnet manufacturers plus Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are underway to expand Ionic Technologies’ global offering.