Ionic selects WSP to deliver feasibility study for UK magnet recycling facility

7th December 2023 By: Tasneem Bulbulia - Senior Contributing Editor Online

ASX-listed Ionic Rare Earths’ 100%-owned subsidiary Ionic Technologies International, based in Belfast, in the UK, has progressed the delivery of a feasibility study for a commercial magnet recycling facility based in Belfast.

Ionic Technologies has developed rare earth element (REE) separation and refining technology and applied this to the recycling of spent permanent neodymium/iron/boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets to enable the creation of sustainable and traceable rare-earth supply chains.

Following the successful award of grants by the UK government’s CLIMATES programme, Ionic Technologies has selected WSP as the engineer and project manager for delivery of the feasibility study for the magnet recycling facility.

The feasibility study forms the most significant single output of the CLIMATES project that Ionic Technologies will complete in partnership with the British Geological Survey (BGS), which will provide a comprehensive assessment of the feasibility and supply side dynamics of a magnet recycling facility within the UK.

“Ionic Rare Earths’ focus is on securing critical elements for the supply chain in the new economy. We are harnessing our technology to accelerate mining, refining and recycling of magnet and heavy rare earths critical for the energy transition, advanced manufacturing and defence.

“The confirmation of WSP as the service provider tasked with delivering the feasibility study into a first-of-its-kind commercial magnet recycling facility in Belfast, utilising our patented technology, represents a significant step towards the construction of a commercial-scale magnet recycling facility, and in doing so establishing a domestic supply chain of secondary rare earth oxides (REOs) for the UK,” Ionic Rare Earth MD Tim Harrison says.

“We will be working in partnership with WSP on the feasibility study, using our patented processes and knowledge gained through operation of our demonstration plant and we expect to have a costed solution by mid-2024.

“We are pleased that we have achieved this key milestone of selecting a suitable partner as part of the CLIMATES programme, in collaboration with the BGS, which will deliver on not only this feasibility study, but also the supply side dynamics of a magnet recycling facility, within the UK,” he adds.

Harrison avers that the decision to select WSP as the service partner on this landmark study was made because of WSP’s prominence, experience and reputation in the chemical industry, as well as their demonstrable capability to deliver a study that is closely aligned to its overall project objectives.

“WSP is a world-leading engineering professional services business, and has technical expertise in engineering, science, architecture, planning, surveying and environmental management; all of which will represent key deliverables for this project, which will be served by their UK-based Process Engineering Centre for Excellence,” he highlights.

The feasibility study will begin this month and is expected to be completed in mid-2024.

In addition to Ionic Rare Earths’ efforts to establish the magnet recycling facility in the UK, it also holds a majority interest in the Makuutu rare earths mining project, in Uganda.