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Ionic Rare Earths begins full scale magnet rare earth oxide production at Belfast demonstration facilty

Ionic Rare Earths has begun continuous production of high purity, recycled magnet rare earth oxides (REOs) has commenced at scale on the demonstration plant at Ionic Technologies International Ltd’s Belfast facility in the UK.

Ionic Technologies recycles Neodymium-Iron-Boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets to high purity separated magnet rare earth oxides (REOs), enabling the creation of sustainable, traceable, and sovereign rare earth supply chains.

Ionic Technologies is now a producer of a suite of magnet REOs including neodymium oxide (Nd2O3) didymium oxide (NdPr oxide), dysprosium oxide (Dy2O3) and terbium oxide (Tb4O7) and is the first to produce such high-quality REO products in the UK.


First NdPr oxide (>99.8% grade) production achieved from continuous operations at Ionic Technologies’ Belfast Demonstration Plant.

The Belfast facility is expected to receive a steady supply in magnets to be recycled from sources such as swarf from existing manufactures of metals alloys and magnets, plus end-of-life turbines from grid scale wind farms, and magnets and components from used electric vehicles (EVs) and other industries.

Ionic Technologies commenced operations processing an end of life (EOL) permanent magnet from a decommissioned wind turbine generator. The permanent magnet composition included 26.7% neodymium (Nd), 5.4% praseodymium (Pr), 1.0% dysprosium (Dy) and 1.4% holmium (Ho).

Following the completion of process commissioning, Ionic Technologies has successfully separated NdPr from heavy rare earth elements (REE) DyHo which will undergo further separation to produce high purity Dy2O3 and Ho2O3 product.

The first production from continuous Demonstration Plant activity has produced approximately 11.5 kg of NdPr oxide grading greater than 99.8% NdPr oxide (total REO content of 99.99%). The production of NdPr oxide at Demonstration Scale follows previous successful production of maiden Nd2O3 grading 99.7% and Dy2O3 grading 99.8%, and Tb4O7 grading > 99.5%.

Initial production of NdPr oxide, and subsequent Dy2O3 and Tb4O7 to be produced, supports the company’s collaboration with partners Less Common Metals (LCM) and Ford Technologies.

Ionic Technologies will supply REOs to LCM, which will produce alloys for magnet production to be developed in Europe, with the sintered magnets to be supplied to Ford Technologies in Halewood, UK, to produce electric motors for evaluation, demonstrating a UK magnet rare earth supply chain as part of a UK Government sponsored CLIMATES initiative.

Following the successful commissioning and first continuous production from the demonstration plant, Ionic Technologies is now entering late-stage negotiations in relation to strategically significant production campaigns, with a view to progressing towards commercial agreements to roll the technology out to western end users.

The continuous demonstration plant will also support the completion of a Feasibility Study into a commercial scale facility, expected by mid-2024 (ASX: 6 December 2023).

Background.. Ionic Technologies, founded in 2015 as a spinout from Queens University Belfast (QUB), is a 100% owned subsidiary of IonicRE, based in Belfast UK, which the company acquired in H1 2022. Ionic Technologies has developed rare earth element separation and refining technology and applied this to the recycling of spent permanent Neodymium-Iron-Boron (NdFeB) magnets.

The process uses a hydrometallurgical process to extract the rare earth elements (REE), then separate the individual magnet REEs within—Nd, Pr, Dy and Tb—and finally refine to high purity individual magnet rare earths oxides (REO).

In September 2022, IonicTech was awarded a grant of £1.72 million (approximately A$2.9 million) from the UK Government’s Innovate UK Automotive Transformation Fund Scale-up Readiness Validation (SuRV) program. This is a significant step towards securing the UK supply of critical rare earth metals for EV manufacture.

In September 2023, Ionic Technologies secured additional funding for two Innovate UK CLIMATES grants totalling £2 million (A$3.90 million). The successful grant funding submissions centerd on two CLIMATES projects:

  1. Iiin partnership with Less Common Metals (LCM) and Ford Technologies, Ionic Technologies will develop a traceable, circular supply chain of rare earths for application in EV motors within the UK; and

  2. in partnership with the British Geological Survey, Ionic Technologies has commenced a feasibility study for a commercial magnet recycling plant in Belfast, UK.

The magnet recycling Demonstration Plant will provide the data for the development of commercial facilities.

;The Ionic Technologies magnet recycling process is agnostic on magnet quality, can process oxidised magnets, and can also manage coatings and films, to produce individually separated and refined high purity REOs.



With magnet recycling now on the move and with UK strategic backing as well as relationships with LCM and Ford UK the Ionic (Tech) project in terms of progress and support is well in advance of the Ionic mining (and processing) intentions. It also fits well with the current thought on greener approaches to producing closed-loop RE feedstock.

Therefore, does Ionic management have any thoughts as to a future spinoff of recycling to enable greater shareholder value creation? Present shareholders (and potential) would no doubt be very interested in such a possibility. GLTA - REI

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