NdPr metal production commissioned at South Korean plant

NdPr metal production commissioned at South Korean plant

Australian Strategic Materials’ subsidiary KSM Metals has signed a binding agreement with Korean company NS World for the sale of up to 10t of neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) metal ingot from September to December 2022.

Blue View

According to the press release, the NdPr metal will be used to produce bonded neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets. Bonded NdFeB magnets form a small portion of the broader NdFeB market, with higher power sintered magnets accounting for well over 90% of the market. However, with high-end, sintered NdFeB magnets set to be swept up into electric vehicle (EV) drivetrain motors, existing supply chains will face an increasingly challenging landscape to secure feed. Supply will need to ramp up to keep pace with demand and, as a result, many consumers of NdFeB magnets are looking for alternatives, including lower-power NdFeB magnets, as the automotive industry is not price sensitive to potential volatile Nd and NdPr prices.

According to Project Blue data, much of the mixed rare earth feedstock (ore, concentrate and compounds) extracted outside of China is currently feeding Chinese plants and is not restricted by the production quotas from domestically mined sources, including feed for the metal and magnet value chain. While more projects are looking at separating rare earths outside of China, riding a wave of political agendas to diversify from China’s rare earth grasp, the metal supply chain lags even further. Vietnam and Thailand are the only significant volume sources of rare earth metals outside China, locked into Japanese magnet producers.

South Korea is a key consumer of rare earth functional products for its downstream industry and the move to secure domestic supply chains fits in with the global trend of rare earth supply risk. For the magnet industry, the metal part of the supply chain is one that still needs to be addressed by US and EU plans being rolled out to build independent and strategic partnerships for EV manufacturing.

  • 20 Sep 2022
  • China
  • Light rare earths
  • Heavy rare earths
  • REE magnets
  • Magnets & Motors

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