Work starts to construct UK’s first rare earth processing facility

Preparation works have begun at the Saltend Chemicals Park, Hull, to develop a £90m rare earth processing hub.

Pensana, Wood and pxGroup are on site, conducting geotechnical drilling and trenching for the foundations of the hub, ahead of main construction subject to the finalisation of project financing later in the year.

This key milestone marks the start of building the world’s first sustainable rare earth separation facility with a target production of around 12,500 annualised 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.

It will be the first major rare earth separation facility to be built in over a decade and the first to be located in a Freeport.

Once complete it will establish an independent magnet metal supply chain for the UK and beyond, creating over
100 high value direct jobs and over 500 jobs during construction.

Pensana chairman, Paul Atherley, said: “It has been a little over nine months since the team set foot on the Saltend Chemicals Park and since then rapid progress has been made with site selection, process route development, facility design, planning permission and the commencement of site preparation.”

The electrification of motive power is the most important part of the energy transition and one of the biggest energy transitions in history.

Magnet metals are central to the transition and critical to high value manufacturing applications such as electric vehicles and offshore wind turbines.

Pensana says it plans to establish Saltend as an independent, sustainable supplier of the key magnet metal oxides to a market which is currently dominated by China.

Saltend Chemicals Park is a 370-acre cluster of chemical and renewable energy businesses including BP Petrochemicals, Ineos, Nippon Gohsei and Air Products. px Group owns Saltend and has seen a string of major investment announcements in recent months, including the Zero Carbon Humber/H2H Saltend bid.