Australian-owned Ionic Rare Earths is preparing for 24/7 operations at a magnet recycling facility in Belfast, Northern Ireland which being managed by its subsidiary Ionic Technologies International (ITI).
ITI claims to have a world-first in the recycling of neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets into high purity rare earth oxides (REOs), enabling the creation of sustainable, traceable supply chains.
The project has been backed by UK Government innovation grants of £2 million (EUR 2.3 million). In partnership with Less Common Metals (LCM) and Ford Technologies, Ionic Technologies says it will develop a traceable, circular supply chain of rare earths for application in EV motors within the UK. It also undertook a feasibility study for a commercial magnet recycling plant in Belfast.
During 2023, Ionic Technologies’ demonstration plant produced initial quantities of high purity (> 99.5%) REOs neodymium (Nd) and dysprosium (Dy). More than 300kg of magnets have been processed in pre-production with 700kg of magnet slurry being prepared for processing in the demonstration plant.
After initial process commissioning and production runs in the Autumn, Ionic Technologies installed additional equipment and upgraded the installed control system. Commercial production runs to support the LCM and Ford collaboration will begin in the New Year.
Since its founding in 2015 as a spinout from Queens University Belfast, Ionic Technologies has developed processes for the separation and recovery of REOs from mining ore concentrates and waste permanent magnets.