3 minute read - 26th April 2021
Pensana to build £90m production facility in Hull
Pensana has secured planning permission for the UK’s first rare earth processing facility at Saltend Chemicals Park near Hull. The facility kickstarts a £90m investment and is expected to create over 100 new direct jobs once completed.
Ground clearing and site preparation are scheduled to commence imminently, with construction and commissioning expected to take 18 months from completion of financing. Pensana says its aim is to create a world-class, independent and sustainable supply chain of the rare earth metals vital for electric vehicle, wind turbine and other strategic industries.
The planned £90m facility will process purified rare earth sulphates, which would be imported from the company’s Longonjo mine in Angola. The Saltend facility will have a target production of circa 12,500 annualised tonnes of rare earth oxides, including 4,500 tonnes of magnet metal rare earth oxides (NdPr), which would represent approximately 5% of 2025 projected world demand.
Benefitting from the recently awarded Humber Freeport status, Saltend has the potential to bring high value manufacturing jobs back to the UK and, through Pensana’s plans, could become one of the world’s largest rare earth processing hubs, importing sustainably, globally sourced feedstock and processing it into valuable oxide and metal products for consumption by European OEMs and beyond.
Pensana chairman, Paul Atherley, said: “Saltend has the potential to become the first major separation facility to be established in over a decade – one of only three major producers outside China – at a critical juncture when Europe depends on China for 98% of its rare earth magnets. Saltend will initially seek to source high purity feedstock from the company’s Longonjo mine and will look to take advantage of the recently granted Humber Freeport status to create a high value processing hub in the UK.
“The global rare earth market, driven by demand from industries including electric vehicles and offshore wind, is expected to increase five-fold by 2030 and the NdPr oxide price is forecast to increase at a CAGR of 4.8 – 9.9%, underpinning strong economics for the investment. With approvals in place for both Saltend and Longonjo, we are looking to commence the development of both projects later this year.”
Geoff Holmes, CEO of px Group, which owns the Saltend Chemicals Park, added: “The news of Pensana’s successful planning application is another fantastic feather in the cap for Saltend Chemicals Park, which will now officially host Pensana and the UK’s first rare earth processing facility. Rare earths play a crucial role in the production of powerful magnets that help power the wind turbines and the electric vehicles that will help decarbonise our economy.
“Receiving planning permission in just three months for such a huge project – both in terms of significance for the UK and in terms of the facility’s sheer size – is testament to our teams’ abilities to work closely with clients with shared goals.”