Skip to main content

    Less Common Metals has investigated the possible establishment of an independent, non-Chinese and UK-based Rare Earth magnet operation in the UK to produce neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) magnets.

    The supply chain for NdFeB magnets requires certain highly strategic rare earth elements as raw materials. The key rare earths are neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium. Neodymium and praseodymium are relatively abundant elements and are routinely presented as neodymium praseodymium (NdPr). Dysprosium and terbium are scarce and expensive, thus adding significantly to the cost of magnets.

    The UK, European Union and the USA are all hugely dependent on imports from China. Due to extensive, long-term and strategic government support, China dominates both the rare earth industry and the resulting downstream NdFeB magnet industry.

    Given the significant growth in demand projected for magnets used in electric motors, primarily for electric vehicle applications, the requirement for a stable, secure, and competitive supply chain, independent of Chinese government control is evident.

    Without an independent supply chain, non-Chinese economies will continue to struggle to maintain manufacturing capabilities and jobs that are dependent upon such rare earth magnets such as electric vehicle manufacturing.

    LCM has identified and outlined what is required to move this initiative forward with a strong focus on UK government support. There are ultimately several approaches to how leaders can help establish the UK supply chain. An overview of these are:

    1. CAPEX support for suitable overseas ventures to secure raw material feed
    2. Assistance with site selection for UK facilities such as separation plant
    3. A supportive approach to permitting
    4. Access to low-carbon competitively priced electricity in the UK to facilitate competitive processing, for example, metal making, alloying and magnet manufacture
    5. Investigate options for rebates to ensure UK supply chain remains viable even in times of low market prices
      • Rebate systems now proposed in both the EU and USA
      • Consider the “safety net” option, to be invoked should market prices drop below the trigger level
    6. Ensure that a new UK magnet manufacturing facility is readily able to access key export markets free of trade barriers or other encumbrance to business.

     

    You can read the full feasibility study report here.

     

    Funding awarded by Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) as part of the Automotive Transformation Fund