Council greenlights plans for ‘Europe’s first’ rare earth metals processing facility in Humberside

The plant’s annual production is forecast to cover 5% of the 2025 global demand for rare earth metals

Pathway to COP26 report

A £100 million chemical engineering project that is believed to become Europe’s first rare earth metals processing facility has been awarded planning permission.

Rare earth metals are used for the manufacturing of magnets for wind turbine generators and electric vehicle (EV) motors.

Currently, these elements are supplied mainly from China.

The new facility, based in Saltend on the Humber, will target annual production of around 12,500 tonnes of rare earth oxides, including 4,500 tonnes of magnet metal rare earth oxides, which would represent approximately 5% of 2025 projected world demand.

The plant which will be built by the British exploration and development firm Pensana has secured the go-ahead from the East Riding Council.

Pensana’s Chairman Paul Atherley commented: “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.”

According to recent reports, EVs are predicted to drive a 350% increase in magnet metal demand in the next five years and offshore wind has a projected demand forecast of 1500% in the next 20 years.

If you enjoyed this story you can sign up to our weekly email for Energy Live News – and if you’re interested in hearing more about the journey to net zero by 2050, you can also sign up to the future Net Zero newsletter. 

Latest Podcast