• 24/7 operations under way at the Ionic Technologies magnet recycling demonstration plant in Belfast, UK
  • Production will be fed directly into UK Government-sponsored project with Ford and Less Common Metals
  • Continuous operations are helping to de-risk the technology and process flowsheet


Special Report: Ionic Rare Earths has commenced 24/7 operations at the Ionic Technologies magnet recycling demonstration plant in Belfast, UK, cementing its position in the global supply of recycled magnet rare earths.

Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR) constructed a magnet recycling demonstration plant and produced quantities of high purity (>99.5%) neodymium and dysprosium rare earth oxides (REOs) in June 2023.

The plant is now operating on a continuous basis, targeting production of high-purity separated rare earth oxides at the 10tpa design capacity, sourced from 30tpa of end-of-life permanent magnets or production swarf.

This production will flow immediately into the UK Government supported CLIMATES collaboration with Ford Technologies and Less Common Metals (LCM).


‘Deepen supply chain relationships’

IXR managing director Tim Harrison says the continuous operation allowed the company to deepen supply chain relationships and provided additional data to support the completion of the feasibility study on a commercial plant located in Belfast, UK.

“This is a major technical achievement for the team,” he says.

“It is an important step forward for Ionic Rare Earths in mining, refining and recycling the magnet and heavy rare earths critical for the energy transition, advanced manufacturing, and defence.

“The continuous operation enables the production of samples and verification data, supports sector relationships, plus new strategic partner relationships.”


Major de-risking move

Harrison says the continuous aspect of the operation is working to de-risk the technology as well as the flowsheet.

“It will soon be hosting potential strategic partners looking to get access to sustainably produced magnet rare earths in a market where demand is expected to quickly outstrip supply,” he says.

“We look forward to supplying our collaboration partners, LCM and Ford, for scaled up downstream value addition all the way to permanent magnets and demonstrating a circular magnet rare earth supply chain.”


What else is happening?

Ionic Rare Earths ASX IXR
Magnet pre-processing, showing jaw crusher in use on left, and crushed permanent magnets on the right. Pic: Supplied (IXR)


To date, ~2.7t of permanent magnets have been processed through front end operations, enabling the start of the digestion circuit for treatment and solid-liquid separation.

The separation circuit has been water commissioned, with feed to the circuit expected to start over the next two weeks.

Simultaneously, Ionic Technologies is readying capability to complete dysprosium and terbium separation utilising the existing mixer-settler pilot plant equipment.

This complex separation of heavy rare earths provides supply chain partners with high purity (99.5% or above) heavy rare earth oxides to be used in developing grain boundary diffused (GBD) sintered permanent magnet production.



This article was developed in collaboration with Ionic Rare Earths, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.