• Ionic partners with Ford, Less Common Metals and British Geological Survey to develop REE supply chain from recycled magnets in UK
  • Ionic technology to recycle magnet REEs for ultimate use in Ford electric vehicles
  • UK government provides separate £2m funding


Ionic’s magnet recycling business has moved into the mainstream after executing landmark partnership agreements with Ford, Less Common Metals and the British Geological Society to create a UK rare earths supply chain from recycled magnets.

Being able to recycle waste permanent magnets will help alleviate the projected deficit for MREOs as the market grows from the current US$3bn to US$15bn by the end of the decade.

Ionic’s tech is far superior to competing recycling processes such as hydrogen decrepitation, which simply breaks down spent magnets and swarf to be recast as magnets of lesser quality.

The REE magnet recycling technology developed by Ionic Rare Earths (ASX:IXR) subsidiary Ionic Technologies International is efficient, non-hazardous, and economically viable with minimal environmental impact.

Its ability to achieve near complete extraction of rare earth oxides (REOs) from lower quality spent magnets and waste (swarf) into a high value magnet REO product has been proven at a demonstration plant in Belfast, UK, which has the capacity to produce 10t of REOs per annum.

In June, the plant recorded milestone production of 4.2kg of 99.7% grade of the light REE neodymium oxide and 0.6kg of 99.8% grade heavy REE dysprosium oxide – both used in the fabrication of permanent REE magnets used in electric vehicle motors and wind turbines – from waste magnets.


Ford partnerships could open pathway to REO supply deal

Ionic Technologies has now secured a collaboration partnership with Ford Technologies and Less Common Metals to develop the UK’s first supply chain for recycled magnet rare earths to magnets.

Ford currently has four drive production facilities globally with most of its European Union production coming from its Halewood facility in the UK that is expected to produce 500,000 units per annum by 2026.

To support production at this facility there will be a requirement for over 600t of magnet raw material per annum.

The global car manufacturer will test and analyse the performance of magnets provided through the project, to prove the efficacy of high specification magnets containing recycled REEs.

Waste generated during each stage of the process will be recycled again, completing a totally circular REE supply chain in the UK.

Privately-owned Less Common Metals Limited is a world leader in the manufacture and supply of rare earth-based metals and alloys.


UK supply chain study

Ionic has also reached a separate partnership with British Geological Survey (BGS) to complete an advanced feasibility study into the REE ecosystem in the UK and the feasibility of a first-of-kind commercial REO production facility in Belfast.

This will expand on the existing BGS material stocks and flows model for rare earths, with new, pertinent data on wind turbines, EVs and other vehicles, all containing significant REE content which could be recycled within the UK.

Ionic notes that with this information, the company would be able to specify a commercial facility, capable of receiving and processing end-of-life or waste magnet material through a plant designed using Ionic Technologies’ patented technology to produce REOs with purity of 99.5%+ quality.

Further highlighting the potential of the technology, both partnerships have received £1m ($1.94m) in funding support from the UK government’s circular critical materials supply chains (CLIMATES) program.

“We are harnessing our technology to accelerate mining, refining and recycling of magnet and heavy rare earths critical for energy transition, advanced manufacturing, and defence,” Ionic managing director Tim Harrison said.

He added that the CLIMATES grants demonstrated the company’s strategy to create a collaborative, western supply chain for REEs and pave the way for Ionic Technologies develop the business case and potential scale up of a commercial magnet recycling facility in Belfast.

Ionic Technologies general manager Thomas Kelly noted that the funding added significant value to the business.

“Ionic Technologies is driving the emerging supply chain for rare earths, and its ability to meet the increasing demand for critical minerals in the UK and abroad,” he said.

“This will enable the UK to meet its Net Zero ambitions, by serving renewable technologies such as wind energy and EV manufacturing.”



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.