UK to start processing Angolan rare earth metals
New venture will throw up a challenge to China, which currently supplies almost all of Europe’s requirements of the precious commodity.
A British company will shortly start processing rare earth metals from Angola, at a time when Europe relies on China for 98 per cent of the strategic commodity.
According to Paul Atherley, chairman of Pensana, the processing facility at Saltend in central England “has the potential to become the first major separation facility to be established in over a decade – one of only three major producers outside China”.
This, he added, comes “at a critical juncture when Europe depends on China for most of its rare earth magnets”, which are vital for electric vehicles, wind turbines and other strategic industries.
Saltend will initially seek to source high purity feedstock from the company’s Longonjo mine in Angola to create a high value processing hub in the UK.
According to China Lusophone Brief, Pensana is seeking to establish a world-class, independent and sustainable supply chain of rare earth metals.
This involves plans to establish the world’s first sustainable rare earth separation facility at the “plug-and-play” Saltend Chemicals Park in Humber, England at a cost of US$125 million with a target production of 12,500 annualised tonnes of rare earth oxides, including 4,500 tonnes of magnet metal rare earth oxides, which would represent approximately 5 per cent of 2025 projected world demand.
Saltend, Pensana added, “could become one of the world’s largest rare earth processing hubs, importing sustainably, globally sourced feedstock and processing it into valuable oxide and metal products”.
The global rare earth market, driven by demand from industries including electric vehicles and offshore wind, is expected to increase five-fold by 2030.
Pensana said this underpins “strong economics for the investment”.
“With approvals in place for both Saltend and Longonjo, we are looking to commence the development of both projects later this year”.