Birmingham rare earth magnet recycling technology selected as Minerals Security Partnership

The UK’s first rare earth magnet recycling pilot plant at the University o
The UK’s first rare earth magnet recycling pilot plant at the University of Birmingham in 2022
One of only 17 projects selected by the MSP, which aims to build secure, responsible mineral supply chains to meet net zero-carbon goals.

A Principals’ meeting of the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) has confirmed that HyProMag Ltd , which uses a technology developed by the University of Birmingham’s Magnetic Materials Group has been selected as one of the projects that will help to develop responsible critical mineral supply chains.

Formed in 2022 by 14 governments (13 countries plus the EU), the Mineral Security Partnership (MSP) aims to ensure adequate supplies of minerals such as rare earths to meet net zero-carbon goals. It aims to support public and private sector investments building diverse, secure, and responsible global critical minerals supply chains.

HyProMag was one of 17 projects selected at the recent Principals’ meeting at the London Metals Exchange, where representatives from the MSP’s members focused on boosting responsible investment and sustainable finance.

HyProMag is commercialising rare earth magnet recycling using Hydrogen Processing of Magnet Scrap (HPMS) technology, developed by researchers in the Magnetic materials Group and the Birmingham Centre for Strategic Elements and Critical Materials at the University of Birmingham. The patented HPMS technology is able to liberate and recycle magnets from end-of-life scrap.

This is an extremely exciting development and shows how research from the University can have an impact on the global stage. Rare earth magnets play a crucial role in a huge variety of technologies, many of which are used in clean energy applications such as wind turbines and electric vehicles. However, the recycling rates for these materials are very low.

Professor Allan Walton, Director of the Birmingham Centre for Strategic Elements and Critical Materials

He explained: "This is primarily because rare earth magnets are difficult to separate from components as they are glued, coated and break up to a magnetised powder on shredding which then sticks to the ferrous scrap. Our Hydrogen Processing of Magnet Scrap (HPMS) technology offers an extremely efficient method to separate rare earth magnets, producing a demagnetised, purified alloy powder which can be fed into multiple parts of the value chain. Without such an efficient separation process it is difficult to see how recycling can be achieved at scale."

The MSP is driving forward a range of projects which will help to develop responsible critical mineral supply chains, including:
  • 11 projects in upstream mining and mineral extraction, four projects in midstream minerals processing, and two projects in recycling and recovery (including HyProMag)
  • One project focused primarily on lithium; three on graphite; two on nickel; one on cobalt; one on manganese; two on copper; and seven on rare earth elements
  • Five projects in the Americas, seven projects in Africa, three projects in Europe, and two projects in Asia-Pacific.

About HyProMag Following the commissioning of the UK’s first rare earth magnet recycling pilot plant at the University of Birmingham in 2022, alongside the UK’s only facility to make sintered rare earth magnets, HyProMag, in partnership with the University of Birmingham, are developing a large-scale recycling plant at Tyseley Energy Park, Birmingham, with first production by the end of this year and supported with funding from UK Research and Innovation through Driving the Electric Revolution (DER).

Investment from UK-Canada listed Mkango Resources in 2020 has helped scale-up and catalyse international growth initiatives, including in Germany where HyProMag has established a sister company, HyProMag GmbH, and in the U.S. through a new Maginito-CoTec 50:50 joint venture company, with evaluation of other jurisdictions underway. Maginito (79.4% Mkango; 20.6% CoTec) acquired HyProMag in 2023.

In line with the MSP’s commitment to recycling and reuse, the development of new sources of recycled rare earths can accelerate development of sustainable and competitive rare earth magnet production.

HyProMag is one of only 17 projects selected across the entire critical minerals sector to receive support from the MSP. We see this as a significant endorsement of the technology, which can make a substantial impact in unlocking the supply chain for rare earth magnet recycling from end-of-life products and enabling the production of rare earth alloys and magnets with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.

William Dawes, CEO of Mkango, which acquired HyProMag in mid-2023
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About the Magnetic Materials Group

The Magnetic Materials Group (MMG) at the University of Birmingham is the only UK research group focussed on the processing of permanent rare earth magnetic materials. The MMG is internationally recognised for its work on hydrogen processing of rare earth alloys and magnets which are used worldwide in the production and recycling of Neodymium-Iron-Boron (NdFeB) magnets.