ASX- and LSE-listed Pensana Rare Earths has tasked the Wood Group to undertake a study into the establishment of an integrated rare earth processing facility in the UK.
With the company having progressed the design of its Longonjo rare earths project, in Angola, to include the production of a mixed rare earth carbonate, Pensana has a unique opportunity to create additional value by establishing a rare earth oxide production facility in the UK.
The Wood Group study will take into account sustainable development when considering the process route, preferred location, capital and operating costs, financing arrangements and government incentives relating to the UK project.
“By linking a midstream magnet metal supply with downstream magnet manufacturing capacity, there is the potential to create a sustainable magnet metal supply chain at a time of increasing concern over the provenance of these critical metals for the electric vehicle (EV) and offshore wind turbine industries,” Pensana states.
Following a recent resource upgrade, the Longonjo project is now one of the world’s largest known rare earth resources.
To give a sense of scale, the Longonjo project could, together with the UK processing facility, produce enough rare earth oxide to supply the wind turbines at Dogger Bank, which is projected to be the world’s biggest wind farm, for the next 20 years.
Located 130 km off the Yorkshire coast, the Dogger Bank wind farm will be powered by an array of 260-m-high Haliades X 13 MW turbines, each requiring more than 7 t of permanent magnets.
With Presidential approval and ongoing financial backing from the Angolan Sovereign Wealth Fund, Pensana’s Longonjo project is well-placed to become the first producing major rare-earth mine in over a decade at a time of burgeoning demand for these critical metals.
The UK and the European Union lead the world in the offshore wind and EV industries, both of which are dependent on permanent magnets.
Both regions have recognised that the green recovery requires critical raw materials and that a sustainable magnet metal supply chain is needed to support the green economy.
The Wood Group study will look at the first and most important step in creating a sustainable mine to magnet supply chain and that is establishing rare earth processing capability in the UK.