Pensana starts building Saltend rare earths refinery

Pensana chairperson Paul Atherley and UK Secretary of State for business Kwasi Kwarteng

Pensana chairperson Paul Atherley and UK Secretary of State for business Kwasi Kwarteng

22nd July 2022

By: Marleny Arnoldi

Deputy Editor Online


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London-listed rare earths developer Pensana has broken ground at its Saltend rare earth processing hub, in the Humber Freeport, in England.

The refinery is the first major rare earths separation facility to be built in more than a decade. Once in full production in 2024, it will be one of only three major rare earth oxide producers outside of China and will be the world’s first rare earth processing facility being powered by offshore wind.

Pensana completed a front-end engineering design and value engineering study for the rare earth separation plant in May, which envisions production of 12 500 t/y of total rare earth oxides, including 5 000 t/y of neodymium and praseodymium oxides.

The plant will treat material sourced from Pensana’s Longonjo mine, in Angola, which will comprise an openpit mine and a flotation concentration plant, to produce mixed rare earth sulphate (MRES).

The Longonjo operation will treat 1.5-million tonnes of ore a year, producing about 40 000 t/y of MRES for export to the Saltend refinery.

The Saltend refinery capital cost is estimated at $195-million, while the mine and processing infrastructure will cost just under $300-million.

Saltend will employ over 450 people during the 12-month construction phase and will create 125 long-term, high-value jobs once operational.

Pensana chairperson Paul Atherley says it is a great privilege to have broken ground on the world’s first independent and sustainable rare earths separation plant.

“This is a huge milestone for both Pensana, the Humber region and the UK, as part of our ambition to establish a critical magnet metals supply chain to secure the green energy transition.

“Securing funding [from the UK government’s £1-billion Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF)] is a key development, demonstrating the UK government’s support for this important project in line with the newly launched Critical Minerals Strategy.”

The ATF a funding programme that has been developed to promote the creation of a high-value end-to-end electrified automotive supply chain in the UK. It is an important mechanism to reach targets set out on government’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution and its recent Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

The UK also has a Critical Minerals Strategy, which details government’s approach to securing technology-critical minerals and metals, and serves as a step towards a resilient, long-term supply chain for the green industrial revolution in the UK.

UK Secretary of State for Business Kwasi Kwarteng remarks that Pensana breaking ground, with government support, shows how the UK’s plans to secure an internationally competitive electric vehicle supply chain continue to gain momentum.

“This incredible facility will be the only one of its kind in Europe and will help secure the resilience of Britain’s supplies into the future,” he adds

Pensana is set to play a vital role in transforming the UK’s electric vehicle and offshore wind industries, by producing low-embedded carbon magnet metals and creating high-value local jobs.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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