By Melanie Burton
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Ionic Rare Earths said on Tuesday it has received UK government investment to build a commercial rare earth magnet recycling facility in Belfast that will supply Ford’s electric vehicle production facilities in the country.
The developer will produce high purity, separated rare earth metals at a commercial plant in Belfast, which it will supply to Less Common Metals (LCM) for alloy production, and which will eventually be converted into magnets for Ford’s local EV production, it said in an Australian stock exchange release.
“The project… is a strategically important step to secure the supply of sustainable rare earth materials to support growth of electric vehicles,” Simon Palmer, a chief engineer at Ford’s European operations, said in the statement.
Shares rose by as much as 20% before settling at A$0.029.
The UK government will support the partnership with an investment of £2 million ($2.50 million) as part of its push to support circular economy magnet rare earths, as the West diversifies supply chains away from China which produces almost all the world’s magnet supply.
Rare earths are the most magnetic of all metals, used in applications from wind farms to EVs to defence.
Ford 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, it said in the release.
($1 = 0.7997 pounds)
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Michael Perry)