Ionic, Ford and LCM Execute Landmark Recycling Partnership
Perth, Sep 12, 2023 AEST (ABN Newswire) - The Board of Ionic Rare Earths Limited (ASX:IXR) (IXRRF:OTCMKTS) is pleased to advise further government support and supply chain progress through Ionic Technologies International Ltd ("Ionic Technologies"), a 100% owned subsidiary based in Belfast UK.
- IonicRE's magnet recycling business Ionic Technologies, has executed landmark partnership agreements with Ford Technologies Limited (Ford), Less Common Metals Limited (LCM), and British Geological Survey (BGS) to create a UK rare earth supply chain from recycled magnets;
- Ionic Technologies' world leading recycling technology will be used to produce high purity, separated and traceable rare earths from end-of-life magnets and swarf, for supply to LCM for alloy production to be converted to NdFeB magnets for ultimate use by Ford in electric vehicle (EV) production;
- The UK government will support the Ionic Technologies, Ford and LCM partnership via a GBP1 million project, with Ionic Technologies announced as the major beneficiary and lead collaborator in the focus on delivering the UK's first domestic sourcing of separated high purity magnet rare earth oxides (REOs);
- The UK government is supporting an additional GBP1 million project in funding a feasibility study into the construction and supply side dynamics of a magnet rare earth recycling plant in the UK in collaboration with the British Geological Survey;
- The funding is part of the UK Government's circular critical materials supply chains (CLIMATES) program; and
- The move is an important step towards sovereignty for the UK, in developing market leading technology and building a supportive pathway for Ionic Technologies to commercialise the first magnet recycling facility in Belfast to feed escalating supply chain appetite for circular economy magnet REOs.
Ionic Technologies has secured a collaboration partnership with Ford Technologies (Ford) and Less Common Metals (LCM) to develop a UK supply chain for recycled magnet rare earths to magnets, and in partnership with British Geological Survey to complete a feasibility study and supply chain analysis for a UK magnet recycling facility. Both programs have been successful in obtaining UK government support through grant funding.
Ionic Technologies has successfully, for the second year in a row, secured funding from the UK Government.
Ionic Technologies has developed rare earth element separation and refining technology and applied this to the recycling of spent permanent Neodymium-Iron-Boron (NdFeB) magnets to enable the creation of sustainable, traceable, and sovereign rare-earth supply chains.
One of these programs will support Ford which currently has four drive production facilities globally. The majority of Ford's European Union (EU) production will come from its UK based Halewood facility which is planning to produce close to half a million units per annum by 2026.
To support production at this facility there will be a requirement for over 600 tonnes of magnet raw material per annum. Ford will test and analyse the performance of magnets provided through the project, to prove the efficacy of high specification magnets containing rare earth elements (REEs) of recycled origin from Ionic Technologies.
Each stage of the process from magnet recycling to EV testing will generate waste (magnets and swarf), including the magnets used in Ford's electric vehicle (EV) motors.
Ionic Technologies will recycle this material, thus completing a totally circular rare earth supply chain within the UK.
The two programs totalling GBP2 million (A$3.90 million), which includes a direct cash injection of approximately GBP750,000, is for Ionic Technologies to become the lead collaborator for the two CLIMATES projects.
Ionic Technologies will take the lead with organisations that are developing secure and traceable critical minerals supply chains in the UK and the EU.
Ionic Rare Earth's Managing Director Tim Harrison commented;
"We are harnessing our technology to accelerate mining, refining and recycling of magnet and heavy rare earths critical for energy transition, advanced manufacturing, and defence," Ionic Rare Earth's Managing Director Tim Harrison said.
He said that the "CLIMATES funding that Ionic Technologies had been awarded by Innovate UK demonstrated IonicRE's strategy to create a collaborative, western supply chain for Rare Earths with Ford Technologies and Less Common Metals in the UK and European Union."
"The other CLIMATES grant would see Ionic Technologies develop the business case and potential scale up of a commercial magnet recycling facility in Belfast, in partnership with British Geological Survey."
Thomas Kelly, General Manager of Ionic Technologies said the funding provided was adding significant value to the business.
"Ionic Technologies is driving the emerging supply chain for Rare Earths, and its ability to meet the increasing demand for critical minerals in the UK and abroad."
"This will enable the UK to meet its Net Zero ambitions, by serving renewable technologies such as wind energy and EV manufacturing," Kelly said.
Innovate UK's CLIMATES Program
Ionic Technologies 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 will complete a feasibility study of a commercial magnet recycling plant in Belfast.
Mike Biddle, Executive Director for Net Zero at Innovate UK congratulated Ionic Technologies and its two project partners:
"By recycling and recovering valuable rare-earth elements, companies like Ionic Technologies are reducing the environmental impact of extraction, saving energy, and creating a resilient supply chain in a growing global market.
"I congratulate Ionic Technologies for securing funding for two CLIMATES projects. They have demonstrated their commitment to this challenge, and I wish them and their partners well on their innovation projects."
The UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK, has announced a GBP6.6m investment in research projects which aim to help build a stronger supply chain of the critical minerals we rely on every day.
The Critical Materials for Magnets Competition is part of the CLIMATES program, announced in February 2023, which committed GBP15m of government funding for cutting-edge research to strengthen the supply of critical materials.
This supply chain represents a huge opportunity for UK businesses; the global market for rare-earth elements (REE) is projected to grow from $2.5bn to $5.5bn by 2028.
In total, 16 UK-based innovation projects were announced as winners of the first competition, consisting of 40 organisations.
To view the official statement, please visit:
Grant 1 - The EV Permanent Magnet Circular Supply Chain
Ionic Technologies, Ford Technologies (Ford) and Less Common Metals (LCM) will establish a demonstration circular supply chain for Rare Earth Elements (REEs) in the UK, by utilising innovative technologies to create high specification magnets containing 100% recycled REEs for use in Electrical Vehicles (EVs).
Ionic Technologies has demonstrated patented technology at the Demonstration Plant in Belfast producing high purity rare earth oxides (REOs) at a rate of 10 tonnes per annum. At 99.5% purity or higher, the REOs produced are suitable for use in high specification magnets for EVs and other technology contributing towards the UK's NetZero ambitions.
LCM is a world leader in the manufacture and supply of complex alloy systems and metals including those based on rare earths. LCM produces alloys made from REOs, which are supplied to permanent magnet production companies worldwide. A sub-contract magnet producer will be used to manufacture multiple magnet types which meet Ford's specifications.
Simon Palmer, Chief Engineer, Vehicle Hardware Engineering Europe, Commercial Vehicles, Ford Motor Company said; "Ford is proud to link up with Ionic and Less Common Metals to deliver the EV Permanent Magnet Circular Supply Chain project. The project which is co-funded by Innovate UK's CLIMATES program is a strategically important step to secure the supply of sustainable rare earth materials to support growth of electric vehicles."
Albert Slot, Managing Director of LCM commented: "LCM is thrilled to be working with Ionic Technologies and Ford to establish a demonstration circular supply chain for Rare Earth Elements in the UK by creating high specification recycled REE magnets."
"As a world leader with over 30 years of experience, this project aligns with LCM's values and we look forward to contributing to the UK Green Targets for EVs, which will create an attractive alternative circular supply chain."
Grant 2 - A feasibility study into the construction and supply side dynamics of a magnet rare earth recycling plant in the UK Ionic Technologies and British Geological Survey (BGS) is seeking to establish of a secure supply of rare earths for the UK, through the implementation of an advanced study into the REE ecosystem within the country and the feasibility of a first-of-kind commercial REO production facility in Belfast.
The UK Government wants to create market depth, economic development and accelerate the move towards a net-zero tomorrow.
The project will expand on the existing BGS material stocks and flows model for rare earths, with new, pertinent data on wind turbines, EVs and other vehicles, all containing significant REE content which could be recycled within the UK.
With this information, Ionic Technologies will be able to specify a commercial facility, capable of receiving and processing end-of-life or waste magnet material through a plant designed using Ionic Technologies' patented technology to produce REOs with purity of 99.5%+ quality.
REOs of this quality are used in the production of high specification magnets, utilised in EVs and defence applications as well as technology such as wind turbines.
In addition to a significant expansion of publicly owned data on the REE eco-system in the UK, the project will also equip Ionic Technologies with technical data to create a source of REOs that would provide the UK with a secure, sovereign supply of REOs independent of geo-political influence and supply chain insecurity.
Dr Evi Petavratzi, from BGS said: "We are very pleased to be able to work alongside Ionic Technologies to elevate the knowledge base of the UK stocks and flows of rare earths in permanent magnets. This will derive critical knowledge that enables new investment and business opportunities to develop, as well as fast-track the establishment of a circular economy of rare earths in the UK."
Since its founding in 2015, as a spinout from Queens University Belfast (QUB), Ionic Technologies has developed processes for the separation and recovery of rare earths from mining ore concentrates and waste permanent magnets.
The technology developed is a step up in efficient, non-hazardous, and economically viable processing with minimal environmental footprint.
Ionic Technologies has demonstrated capability to achieve near complete extraction of rare earths from spent magnets and waste (swarf) to a recovery of high value magnet REO product quality exceeding 99.9% REO.
Ionic Technologies now has "first mover" advantage in the industrial elemental extraction of separated REOs from spent magnets and waste, enabling near term magnet REO production capability to satisfy growing demand from the energy transition, advanced manufacturing, and defence.
Ionic Technologies proprietary technology provides a universal method for the recovery of high purity REOs from lower quality and variable grade magnets, to be used in the manufacture of modern high-performance and high specification permanent magnets required to support substantial growth in both EV and wind turbine deployment.
About Innovate UK
Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is the UK's innovation agency. Innovate UK work to create a better future by inspiring, involving and investing in businesses developing life-changing innovations.
Innovate UKs mission is to help companies to grow through their development and commercialisation of new products, processes, and services, supported by an outstanding innovation ecosystem that is agile, inclusive, and easy to navigate.
Find out more at https://www.ukri.org/councils/innovate-uk
About British Geological Survey
The British Geological Survey is a world-leading geological survey and global geoscience organisation, focused on public-good science for government and research to understand earth and environmental processes.
British Geological Survey is the UK's premier provider of objective and authoritative geoscientific data, information and knowledge to help society to use its natural resources responsibly, manage environmental change and be resilient to environmental hazards.
Find out more at https://www.bgs.ac.uk
About Less Common Metals
Less Common Metals Limited is a privately-owned company and world leader in the manufacture and supply of rare earth-based metals and alloys. Main markets served are; the global permanent magnet industry, specialist master alloy consumers and producers of functional materials based on rare earth-containing alloys. With considerable experience in the production and characterisation of materials to tight compositional tolerances and controlled microstructures, LCM offers an innovative and highly flexible approach to a wide range of material requirements.
Find out more at https://lesscommonmetals.com
About Ford Technologies
Ford Technologies Limited is a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company. Ford Technologies Limited own and operate a major Research & Development complex at Dunton, Essex, UK. Ford currently has 4 drive production facilities globally; the majority of EU production will come from its UK based Halewood facility which is planning to produce close to half a million units per annum by 2026.
Find out more at https://www.ford.co.uk/experience-ford/about-ford
*To view photographs, please visit:
About Ionic Rare Earths Limited
Ionic 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.