Heavy Rare Earth Elements (“HREE”) are critical to the global clean energy transition.Heavy Rare Earth elements Dysprosium (“Dy”) and Terbium (“Tb”), and Light Rare Earth elements Neodymium (“Nd”) and Praseodymium (“Pr”), have magnetic attributes and are critical components in the production of high-performance permanent magnets.Neodymium-based permanent magnets (“Nd magnets”) offer superior performance as they are lighter and stronger compared to other type of magnets, and have the ability to be engineered into any shape or size.Incorporation of Dy and Tb into Nd magnets delivers enhanced operating performance by enabling them to operate at higher temperatures (magnets with HREE can operate up to 240°C as compared to 60°C for those magnets without HREE), without losing their magnetic properties (high coercivity).
In EVs, permanent magnets result in increased range autonomy, better use of space, lower weight and lower battery costs, the latter as a result of reduced lithium, cobalt and nickel content. According to Roskill, Nd permanent magnets are the permanent magnets that offer the best performance and optimisation potential in electric motors, with 90% of EV models using them as part of their drivetrain, including Tesla’s Model S, Model X and Model 3.We expect growth in EV and wind turbine production to be exponential.
In wind turbines, Nd magnets are a preferred alternative to traditional geared systems to generate wind power, as magnets require less maintenance, leading to longer wind turbine operating lives with lower operating costs. This advantage is particularly important for offshore wind turbines.
Concentrated Production and Processing of HREEThe extraction and production of REE has been dominated by China. Abundant ion-adsorption clay deposits and low cost of extraction owing to less stringent regulatory and environmental standards have historically been a competitive advantage for China.
Aclara’s objective is to become a strategic non-China based supplier of the critical HREE, Dy and Tb, as well as supplying the in-demand LREE, Nd and Pr, all of which are required to manufacture the permanent magnets that we believe are required to enable the widespread use of renewable energy technologies and the increased adoption of EVs globally. We aim to produce HREE carbonates with approximately 92% purity and a very low environmental and social footprint, underpinned by: minimal water consumption due to a high level of water recirculation, no tailings dams, and no use of blasting, crushing or milling. Consequently, Aclara will become a premium producer of HREE, providing a high-valued alternative for diversification to the supply chain of EVs, wind turbines and other green technologies.