AIM and TSX-listed Mkango Resources and Grupa Azoty PULAWY have agreed to work together towards development of a rare earths separation plant in Poland.
Subsequently, Mkango has established a Polish subsidiary, Mkango Polska, to develop the plant and investigate other business opportunities in Poland.
Grupa Azoty PULAWY is part of the Grupa Azoty Group, the European Union’s second largest manufacturer of nitrogen and compound fertilisers, and a major chemicals producer.
The parties have signed an exclusive lease option agreement for a site adjacent to Grupa Azoty PULAWY’s large scale fertiliser and chemicals complex at Pulawy in Poland, which provides excellent infrastructure, access to reagents and utilities on site, and an attractive operating environment, resulting in a highly competitive operating cost position for the plant, based on scoping studies to date.
Located within a Polish Special Economic Zone, the site provides excellent access to European production from the plant will strengthen Europe’s security of supply for rare earths, used in electric vehicles, wind turbines and other green technology and strategic applications, and aligns with European initiatives to create more robust, diversified supply chains.
Engagement with financial institutions is underway to accelerate development, and additional strategic partnerships, downstream developments and marketing opportunities are being evaluated.
Feasibility studies for the plant are being undertaken in parallel with Mkango’s Songwe Hill rare earths project in Malawi and other opportunities, including Mkango’s interest in HyProMag Limited, which is developing production of short loop recycled rare earth magnets in the UK.
Highly competitive operation
The plant is expected to initially produce approximately 2 000 tpa of neodymium, praseodymium and/or didymium (NdPr) oxides as well as a heavy rare earth enriched carbonate, containing approximately 50 tpa dysprosium and terbium oxides. It is also expected to produce lanthanum cerium carbonate.
Mkango is evaluating marketing and processing options for the heavy rare earth enriched carbonate and lanthanum cerium carbonate. The plant will use best-in-class, conventional and proven technology, and will benefit from excellent rail and road infrastructure as well as the direct supply of the required processing reagents from Grupa Azoty PULAWY. It will also have access to a local skilled workforce, on-site engineering and project development expertise and R&D science institutes.
Based on scoping studies undertaken to date, the plant is expected to have highly competitive operating costs.
Development of the plant is expected to be underpinned by the sustainable supply of a purified mixed rare earth carbonate from Mkango’s Songwe Hill project in Malawi. Mkango will also evaluate the potential to process third party feeds.
The feasibility studies for the plant will run in parallel with those for Songwe Hill. Furthermore, the company will seek to maximise the renewable energy content and minimise the carbon impact of the developments in both Malawi and Poland, as part of the feasibility studies.