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ASM builds rare earths supply chain, sells first critical metals

Manufacturing News

Australian Strategic Materials (ASM) has quietly inserted itself into global supply chains for the rare earths critical to high technology products ranging from electric motors to touch screens and computer hard drives.

The company is developing the Dubbo, NSEW rare earths project, in the meantime supplying its company owned Korean Metals Plant (KMP) metal refinery with ores sourced from Vietnam.

In an update to investors ASM said it had begun a strategic partnership with US-based rare earth magnet manufacturer Noveon Magnetics with the sale of an initial 100 tonnes of NdFeB alloy from ASM’s KMP.

NdFeB also known as Neodymium magnets are made of neodymium, iron and boron and have the highest magnetic properties of all permanent magnets.

During the latest quarter the company also:

  • Secured the supply of rare earth oxides with a binding agreement with Vietnam Rare Earth Company to ensure the ramp-up of production at the KMP
  • Was awarded a $6.5 million grant under Tranche 2 of the federal government’s Critical Minerals Development Program
  • And continued Procurement and Construction (EPC) Definition activities at the Dubbo Project.

ASM said that during the Quarter Hyundai Engineering Company (HEC) progressed Stage 1 of the EPC Definition work developing key project design features of the Dubbo project – these are expected to be completed by 31 July 2023.

Stage 2 of the EPC Definition work will further develop engineering design to allow for identification and selection of technology requirements at the Dubbo Project.

During the Quarter, ASM worked with the Australian Nuclear Science and technology Organisation (ANSTO) to set up and operate Campaign 1 of the terbium/dysprosium (Tb/Dy) process flowsheet pilot programme.

Terbium and dysprosium enhance the high-temperature properties of NdFeB magnets.

“The preliminary results from the pilot plant indicated that Dy has been produced to 99.95 percent quality, with the second Campaign (scheduled for August) to complete the Tb extraction from the remaining Dy.

“The pilot programme is expected to conclude by the end of 2023 and is supported by funds awarded under Stream 1 of the NSW government’s Critical Minerals and High-Tech Metals Activation Fund.”

Picture: Australian Strategic Materials

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