Pensana finishes FEED work on Angola, UK plants

Company says facilities will improve supply of minerals for manufacturers

 Pensana's facility in Angola

Pensana's facility in Angola

UK-listed rare earths mining company Pensana has completed the Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) for its rare earths processing facility in Saltend, UK, and concentrator in Angola as part of efforts to meet rising demand from electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers.

The company said the processing facility at Saltend, the UK's first for rare earths, would produce 12,500 tonnes of separated rare-earth oxide per annum, of which 4,500 tonnes per annum would be magnet metal rare earths neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) oxides, equivalent to 5% of global demand.

Additionally, the CAPEX for the two facilities has been reduced from $525 million to $494 million, and Pensana said it expects to reduce costs further.

It has launched specific workstreams to save capital and operational costs, such as piloting a flotation concentrate calcining process offered as a vendor alternative post-FEED at Longonjo and optimizing Saltend's civil earthworks for load-bearing structures.

According to Paul Atherley, chairman of Pensana, the company is discussing with major automotive and wind turbine manufacturers the supply of critical rare earths.

"With only one major magnet metal rare earth producer outside China, transparent and independent capacity is urgently required, particularly in Europe," Atherley said.

"Pensana is excellently positioned to bring high-value manufacturing back to the UK and be a first mover in meeting this burgeoning demand for critical magnet metals."

Speaking to Mining Magazine, a Pensana spokesperson said the rising demand for magnet metal rare earths from the electric vehicle industry is helping the government diversify its economy away from oil and gas and diamonds.

"The company also commented that the new facilities would support full traceability of rare earths and provide a visible and audible supply chain from mine to magnet." 

"By controlling both the extraction and separation of rare earth materials at Saltend, we offer an independent solution to the issues surrounding transparency with the rare earth supply chains that exist today," a Pensansa spokesperson said in a statement.

"Over the past three years, we have been in regular contact with the relevant port and rail authorities to secure rates, terms and conditions.  

"Longonjo initially will be a significant customer, but still only will only use a fraction of the actual capacity of the corridor in the long term."  

Pensana said in October 2021 it would step up its search for rare earth minerals by beginning detailed geological mapping at the Coola project in Angola after lockdown restrictions in the country were lifted.

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