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Weekly Rare Earth Roundup with James Tekune – Week 12, 2024

Neo Performance Materials announced 2023 year-end results

Late last week, Neo Performance Materials (NPM) released its 2023 year-end results. The company reported a net loss of $8.4M on revenue of $571.5M, down from a $25.9M profit the year prior on revenue of $640.3M. The company attributed the fall to declining rare earth prices and soft demand in China.

The Magnequench segment, which is the leading producer of NdFeB powders globally, reported a 23% decline in revenue from $277M to $213M, while its Chemicals & Oxides division saw revenue decrease by 5%, from $248M to $236M in 2023.

NPM noted that construction of its new sintered NdFeB magnet plant in Sillamäe, Estonia is on track. The company is targeting a Phase 1 production capacity of 2,000 tpa NdFeB blocks from 2025, expanding to a Phase 2 capacity of 5,000 tpa thereafter as warranted by market conditions.

Adamas take: While NPM’s legacy magnetics market continues to face challenges, the company continues to deliver growth in its high-margin magnetic components and assembly business.

With its sintered NdFeB plant under construction, NPM will be well positioned to capitalize on growing magnet demand in Europe.

ASM’s Dubbo receives $600M LoI from US EXIM

Earlier this week, Australian Strategic Materials (ASM) announced receipt of a $600M non-binding and conditional Letter of Interest (LoI) from the Export-Import Bank of the United States (US EXIM) for a debt funding package to develop its polymetallic Dubbo project in New South Wales, Australia.

The LoI is conditional to ASM obtaining all necessary approvals for the project and successful completion of due diligence by US EXIM.

In June 2021, ASM received conditional debt funding up to A$200M ($132M) from Export Finance Australia (EFA). The latest LoI boosts available conditional support for Dubbo to $732M.

Adamas take: A massive win for ASM, which has been busy building its downstream South Korean metals and NdFeB alloy business over the past 2-3 years via subsidiary Korean Strategic Materials (KSM).

With its downstream business established, the development of Dubbo would make ASM an emerging vertically integrated powerhouse outside of China.

Meteoric Resources secures $250M LoI from US EXIM

Earlier this week, Meteoric Resources announced that it too received an LoI from US EXIM regarding potential debt financing of up to $250M for development of its Caldeira project in Minas Gerais, Brazil pending further due diligence.

Earlier this month, Meteoric reported first production of mixed rare earth carbonate (MREC) as part of ongoing metallurgical test work on Caldeira clays.

Adamas take: A ‘meteoric’ start for Meteoric at Caldeira, which has already managed to better JOGMEC’s historic recovery rates at the project.

As previously noted, this month’s validation of the planned atmospheric AMSUL wash at bench scale is also encouraging.

With potential funding from US EXIM, the company could fast track into production early in the second half of the decade. A final investment decision is expected by late-2025.

CAP to invest up to $80M in Aclara’s Chile operations

Last week, Aclara Resources announced that it secured an investment deal with Chilean mining conglomerate CAP worth up to $80M to help expedite development of its Penco Module REE project in Chile.

As per the agreement, CAP will receive a 20% stake of Aclara’s Chilean operations, REE Uno, in exchange for $29M injection and has an option to invest a further $50M upon permit approval for an additional 20% equity share. Additionally, CAP gets a one-time demand subscription right to invest up to 19.9% in Aclara, exercisable under certain conditions.

The companies will also establish a 50/50 JV focused on developing metals and alloys for the permanent magnet industry. CAP will inject $3M for a 50% share of the JV with Aclara holding the rest.

Adamas take: With multiple irons in the fire, CAP’s investment will enable Aclara to use its existing cash reserves to advance its Carina Module project in Brazil.

Notable is the establishment of a JV focused on metals and alloys which can help upgrade Aclara’s mine outputs into the metals and alloys North American and European magnet makers need.

American Rare Earths’ Halleck Creek Scoping Study released

Earlier this week, American Rare Earths (ARR) announced results of a Scoping Study on its Halleck Creek REE project in Wyoming.

The Study, which was completed by Stantec Consulting, outlined the project’s initial capex at $456M and projected a pre-tax NPV10 of $505M and a ~3-year payback period.

Last month the company announced an increased Halleck Creek MRE of 2,342 million tonnes grading 3,196 ppm TREO using a cut-off grade of 1,000 ppm TREO.

In the proposed flowsheet, the REE-bearing allanite ore from Halleck Creek will be concentrated to a grade of 3.5% to 4% at the mine site, then will be separated into oxides of NdPr, Dy, Tb, La and a mixed Sm-Eu-Gd concentrate at a facility to be built near Wheatland, Wyoming. ARR anticipate the completion of a PFS within the next 12 months.

Adamas take: A positive outcome for the Scoping Study although with a relatively low-grade resource and unproven mineralogy at scale, the upcoming PFS will be key to validate the viability of the project.

SRC received $6M grant for its rare earth processing facility

Last week, Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) announced a $6M grant for Saskatchewan Research Council’s (SRC’s) new rare earth processing facility in Saskatoon.

The funding, which was announced by the Minister Responsible for PrairiesCan, Dan Vandal, will be used to establish and commercialize a process to produce separated REOs from radioactive monazite tailings.

Scaled production of rare earth metals using an automated metal smelting process will also be supported by the grant.

The new SRC processing facility, which is expected to be operational at year-end, previously received $71M from the Saskatchewan government, $5M from Natural Resources Canada and a prior $2.5M interest-free loan from PrairiesCan.

Adamas take: Encouraging to see SRC working to develop monazite processing capacity in Saskatchewan, where regulatory and social acceptance would be expectedly high owing to the province’s well established uranium industry.

Having another permitted monazite processing facility and associated U/Th storage in North America would be a huge asset for emerging producers.

Cyclic Materials and VAC partner to recycle REEs from swarf

On Monday Canada-based Cyclic Materials and Germany’s Vacuumschmelze (VAC) announced a partnership to recycle REE-containing by-products of magnet production (i.e., swarf) to help enable a circular, sustainable supply chain.

Earlier this month, VAC’s U.S. subsidiary, e-VAC Magnetics, broke ground in Sumter, South Carolina at the site of its new sintered NdFeB magnet manufacturing facility.

The new plant is expected to be operational in Q3 2025 and will produce NdFeB magnets for electric vehicles and other high-performance applications.

As per the agreement, Cyclic Materials will use its proprietary magnet recycling process to recover NdFeB from VAC’s production by-products.

Adamas take: This agreement builds on an earlier announced agreement between Solvay and Cyclic Materials for offtake of mixed rare earth carbonate produced by Cyclic from end-of-life devices, and now presumably swarf as well.

It’s yet to be seen where metallization of the material will take place post-Solvay but its encouraging to see the links of this chain coming together.

 



James Tekune, Associate at Adamas Intelligence

James is an Associate at Adamas focused on the global rare earths industry. He tracks and analyzes exploration and development projects, emerging processors and recyclers, and end-users around the world.

James has 3 years experience in mining and geophysics in the nickel, iron and gold sectors.

He completed his Bachelors of Science (Hons) in Geology at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. He also holds credentials in Finance and Geographic Information Science.

 


 


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