Pensana has broken ground at its Saltend hub which it claims will be the world's first rare earth processing facility powered by offshore wind.
The development, located in the Humber Freeport in Hull, will produce key components for electric vehicle and offshore wind original equipment manufacturers with low-embedded carbon.
Pensana’s project was endorsed by the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who was present at the ground-breaking ceremony.
Following a 12-month construction period, the $195m plant is targeting production late 2023, before ramping up to full capacity in 2024.
The company aims to produce 12,500 tonnes of separated rare earths, including 4,500 tonnes of the critically important magnet metal rare earths, which represent over 5% of world supply.
Saltend will employ over 450 people during the 12 month construction phase and will create 125 long term, high value jobs, demonstrating ‘levelling up’ in action.
Connecting offshore wind to hub
Pensana recently signed a letter of intent securing private wire connection to battery storage operated by Yorkshire Energy Park under which it will have access to 4MW rising to 10MW of low carbon electricity for 10 years.
Pensana will use the low-cost and resilient supply of low-carbon electricity to power the Saltend separation facility and then later to power the conversion of NdPr Oxide into magnet metal, making it the first in the world to use offshore wind to produce ultra-low carbon magnet metal.
The Yorkshire Energy Park will include up to 200MW of battery storage and is located adjacent to Pensana’s site within the Saltend Chemicals Park. The £200m next-generation energy facility will connect 7GW of offshore wind to industrial consumers via large-scale batteries. The closest wind farm is the RWE-operated Humber Gateway located 32 kilometres from Saltend.
Automotive Transformation Fund support
Pensana has secured funding under the UK Government’s £1bn Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) to support development of the Saltend rare earths processing hub.
The ATF funding programme has been developed to promote the creation of a high-value end-to-end electrified automotive supply chain in the UK. It is an important mechanism to reach targets set out in the UK Government’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution and its recent Transport Decarbonisation Plan.
Critical minerals strategy
During the ground-breaking ceremony, Kwarteng also announced the UK Government’s Critical Minerals Strategy, which details the Government’s approach to securing technology-critical minerals and metals and is an important step towards securing a resilient, long-term supply chain to deliver a green industrial revolution for the UK.
Pensana Chairman Paul Atherley said: "This is a huge milestone for both Pensana, the Humber region and the UK, as part of our ambition to establish a critical magnet metals supply chain to secure the green energy transition.
"Securing ATF funding is a key development, demonstrating the UK Government’s support for this important project in line with the newly launched Critical Minerals Strategy. Pensana is set to play a vital role in transforming the UK’s EV and offshore wind industries, by producing low-embedded carbon magnet metals and creating high value local jobs.”
Business Secretary Kwarteng said Pensana's project has been made possible in part through government support and shows how our plans to secure an internationally competitive electric vehicle supply chain in the UK continues to gain momentum. He said the facility will be the only of its kind in Europe and will help secure the resilience of Britain's supplies in future.
“That’s why we’ve also launched the UK’s first Critical Mineral Strategy, setting out plans to develop robust supplies of minerals that are key to our economic success and national security," he said.
"The strategy will bolster our resilience to market shocks and geopolitical events, while supplying key industries such as automotive and defence.”
Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness, Graham Stuart, said the project will create hundreds of jobs, improve the UK’s energy security and help our country to achieve Net Zero by 2050.