As rare earth prices continue to rise, bringing more explorers into the space, Australian Strategic Materials (ASX: ASM) looks to have a clear lead on the chasing pack with the Korean Institute of Rare Metals (KIRAM) successfully testing their rare earth powders for suitability in electric vehicles.
Testing was conducted on ASM’s high-purity neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) powder at Kiram’s plant in South Korea with NdFeB being a critical component of permanent magnets within EV batteries.
With results confirming the suitability of ASM’s rare earths, the certification validated ASM’s strategy to become an independent, fully integrated “mine to manufacturer” producer of critical metals.
“We now have confirmation of the quality and high purity of the permanent magnet alloy and titanium powders ASM can deliver to the Korean industry and eventually the global markets,” said ASM Managing Director, David Woodall.
“ASM is now planning to advance in the next few months with the detailed engineering, incorporating both the recently produced titanium and now the permanent magnet powders as part of an initial 5,200 tonnes per year plant in Korea, projected to be fully operational by mid-2022.
“This is a very significant transition for the company as we continue to progress the development of the Dubbo Project in the central western, NSW.”
Home to Hyundai – the world’s third largest car manufacturer behind Toyota and Volkwagen, South Korea is a particularly attractive market for rare earth operations as manufacturers around the world are actively seeking non-Chinese supply.
The rare earths market has rapidly evolved with the world now conscious of how market economics can create an economic imbalance due to China’s power over the commodity’s price. This was witnessed in 2011 when China limited their global exports, sending Chinese neodymium oxide prices up 1000%.
It was also one of the driving factors that led former US President Trump to declare an Executive Order targeting rare earths to reduce the US’s reliance on Chinese supply.
In 2020, the dysprosium price increased by 22% from the start of the calendar year, according to data from Asian Metal.
ASM expects that by 2030, electric vehicles will consume 25% of permanent magnets globally.
Projected to be fully operational by mid-2022, ASM’s Korean plant would be primarily supplied by ASM’s Dubbo Project which has a mineral resource of 75.18Mt @ 0.74% total rare earth oxide.