COVID-19 won’t slow down rare earths innovator Hexagon
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Special Report: Concentrating supply industries in one country can lead to massive supply chain disruptions when ‘black swan’ events like COVID-19 occur. This underscores the strategic importance of Hexagon’s game-changing North American rare earths business.
Like many other companies, Hexagon Energy Materials (ASX:HXG) is taking steps to soften the impacts of COVID-19 on its operations.
The Australian listed company is working to commercialise a revolutionary rare earths elements (REEs) processing tech called RapidSX with a Canadian partner.
RapidSX could disrupt China’s monopoly over virtually the entire REE supply chain; from mining, to separation into REE oxides (REOs), to the manufacture of REE permanent magnets (REPMs).
The core focus right now is to develop the RapidSX Commercial Demonstration Plant (CDP) for the downstream separation of REEs.
Importantly for Hexagon, global travel constraints caused by COVID-19 won’t stop progress on the project continuing with its partner, Innovation Metals Corp.
Most of the equipment and technical expertise to complete the CDP is available in Canada.
Tyler Dinwoodie, chief executive of Hexagon’s US subsidiary Energy Materials of America, is also based in Ontario, Canada – providing significant oversight and continuity of planned operations.
Ongoing activities include flowsheet enhancements and optimisation, patent preparation, development of the commercialisation strategy, and discussions with clients on new technical services agreements.
Hexagon is also in ‘remote’ discussions with several parties to source the ~$US2m ($3.5m) required to complete the CDP in Q4 this year, as well as with others interested in utilising this tech.
At the end of February, Hexagon had about $1.8m in the bank with no debt – enough to finance core activities well into Q4.
The company is still aiming to minimise spending to ensure its success during this period of uncertainty.
Chairman Charles Whitfield says Hexagon continues to advance this REE opportunity while working to mitigate the company’s exposure to the current uncertainty in world events and volatility in global markets.
“Ironically, this pandemic has underscored the recent realisation that having supply industries heavily concentrated in one country or geography can significantly exacerbate industry and supply chain disruptions when unforeseen macro events occur – thus underscoring the value and strategic importance of our planned rare earth business,” he says.