Rare Earths MMI: GM, MP Materials reach rare earth magnets deal; MP to build Texas magnet factory

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The Rare Earths Monthly Metals Index (MMI) rose by 11.3% for this month’s reading.

December 2021 Rare Earths MMI chart

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GM, MP Materials to collaborate on rare earths magnet supply chain

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General Motors announced it will collaborate with MP Materials to develop a “fully integrated” U.S. supply chain for rare earth magnets.

“Under the long-term agreement, MP Materials will supply U.S.-sourced and manufactured rare earth materials, alloy and finished magnets for the electric motors used in the GMC HUMMER EV, Cadillac LYRIQ, Chevrolet Silverado EV and more than a dozen models using GM’s Ultium Platform, with a gradual production ramp that begins in 2023,” GM said in a release.

China’s dominance of the global rare earths mining and processing sector has led the U.S. to pursue development of its own rare earths supply chain in order to mitigate dependence on China.

The Pentagon previously reached an agreement with Australia’s Lynas Rare Earths Limited to build a light rare earths separation facility in Texas.

“We are building a resilient and sustainable EV manufacturing value chain in North America, from raw materials to cell manufacturing to electric drive motors and beyond, further accelerating GM’s vision to support a mass market for EVs,” said Shilpan Amin, GM vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. “Our work with MP Materials is another bold step forward that will help ensure that we meet our goal to lead the EV industry in North America in more than just sales.”

MP to build magnet factory in the US

Further strengthening the U.S. supply chain, MP announced it will build a rare earths magnet factory in Fort Worth, Texas.

The company owns and operates the Mountain Pass rare earths mine and processing facility in California. The facility is the only operating rare earths mine in the U.S.

MP said it will develop a 200,000-square-foot greenfield metal, alloy and neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) magnet manufacturing facility.

The site will also serve as the business and engineering headquarters for its magnetics division, MP Magnetics. The new facility will create more than 100 jobs, MP added.

U.S. rare earths mine production reached 38,000 metric tons in 2020, the United States Geological Survey reported. That marked a jump from 28,000 metric tons in 2019.

GM, POSCO Chemical to build battery material processing plant

In other related GM news, the automaker announced plans to team up with South Korea’s POSCO Chemical to build a new plant for processing cathode active material. The material accounts for 40% of the cost of a battery cell, according to GM.

The automaker did not announce the location of the new facility. However, the facility will open in 2024.

“The new facility will supply the Ultium Cells LLC facilities GM and LG Energy Solution are building in Lordstown, Ohio and Spring Hill, Tennessee,” GM added. “Two more U.S.-based Ultium cell plants are planned by mid-decade as GM drives mass adoption of EVs with high-volume Ultium-powered EVs, including a Chevrolet crossover priced around $30,000.”

Actual metals prices and trends

The Chinese neodymium oxide price jumped 14.1% month over month to $136,235 per metric ton as of Dec. 1.

Terbium oxide jumped 12.6% to $1,746 per metric ton. Terbium metal rose 8.56% to $2,137 per kilogram.

Meanwhile, dysprosium oxide rose 1.15% to $460 per kilogram. Rare earth carbonate increased by 17.7% to $10,946 per metric ton.

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