Other Elements and Materials

Energy Fuels’ first shipment creates US-Europe rare earths supply chain

Energy Fuels’ first shipment creates US-Europe rare earths supply chain
Mining News Pro - Energy Fuels and Neo Performance Materials created a new United States-to-Europe rare earth supply chain this week when the first container – with 20 tonnes of product – of an expected 15 containers of mixed rare earth carbonate produced at Energy Fuels’ White Mesa Mill in Utah was shipped to Neo’s rare earth separations facility in Estonia.
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The new supply chain will initially produce rare earth products from monazite that is processed into RE Carbonate at Energy Fuels’ Mill in Utah. The RE Carbonate is then processed by Neo at its Silmet rare earth processing facility in Sillamäe, Estonia into separated rare earth oxides and other rare earth compounds.

Neo is the only commercial producer of separated rare earth oxides in Europe and there is currently no separation facility in America, Chalmers said.

Energy Fuels was able produce carbonate quickly by retrofitting an existing uranium facility that already had permits for dealing with uranium recovery, and using existing infrastructure, Chalmers said.

“It’s the highest grade and best distributions of rare earths that facilities in the US can’t handle — that’s where we come in,” Chalmers said. “There is no next step in the United States. We ship to Estonia because that’s the only separation plant that makes the high purity rare earth elements in Europe.”

Plans are in the works to build a separation plant at White Mesa in the next 2-3 years, and possibly adding metals, alloys, and rare earth permanent magnets manufacturing capabilities. As a first step, the company has hired the French firm Carester SAS to produce a scoping study including capital and operating costs for a full rare earth separations capability at the White Mesa Mill.

“The launch of this new supply chain is a real gamechanger for Neo and our growing customer base in Europe,” said Constantine Karayannopoulos, Neo’s Chief Executive Officer.

“This U.S. to Europe supply chain will supplement Neo’s existing rare earth supply from our long-time Russian supplier. It will enable Neo to expand value-added rare earth production in Estonia to meet growing demand in Europe for these materials,” Karayannopoulos said in a media release.

“It begins to unlock the extraordinary economic and environmental potential presented by utilizing low-cost rare earth feedstock from monazite ore that is a byproduct of existing mining. And, it helps Neo ramp up rare earth production in Estonia just as Europe accelerates vehicle electrification and other initiatives aimed at mitigating climate impacts.”

The end products emerging from NEO’s Estonia plant are magnetic rare earth elements neodymium and praseodymium.

“We’re in a transformation period, and it’s staggering, how this transformation is occurring in the energy markets,” Chalmers said.

“Rare earths is emerging very, very quickly. We’re catching up to what China is doing – but we’re doing it at western world standards… [and] bringing back the supply chain, to get materials out of America, Canada, and Latin America and not be 90% dependant on China.”


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