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minerals-plant

UK Business Secretary backs minerals plant

Pensana’s facility will process the minerals neodymium and praesodymium, which it plans to mine in Angola from late 2023

A proposed rare earth metal processing plant on the Humber is set to receive the backing of Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

The government is keen to reduce the UK’s reliance on Chinese imports and shore-up its own manufacturing capabilities.

To fund the project, business department is putting up a £4m ($5.04m) grant of taxpayers money from its £1bn ($1.26bn) Automotive Transformation Fund, according to The Sunday Times.

The strategy was set up last year to speed the electrification of the UK’s car industry.

Its latest grant is intended to help Persana unlock the private investment needed to fund the plant, which is expected to cost £150m ($188m) and create 125 jobs.

The facility will be built by London-listed Pensana at Saltend Chemicals Park to refine rare earths for use in magnets in electric vehicles and wind turbines.

Pensana’s facility will process the minerals neodymium and praesodymium, which it plans to mine in Angola from late 2023.

China’s remains the dominant player in the refining of minerals, which are vital for electric cars and batteries.

China refines about 90 per cent of these metals, stoking concerns it can cut off concerns and raise prices at will.

A Whitehall source told the newspaper Kwarteng wanted ‘to chip away at Beijing’s dominance in rare earth metals’ and stop Britain and Europe ‘becoming price-takers.’

The government has formed a critical minerals expert group and has pledged to publish a strategy in this area later this year.

Chairman Paul Atherly said: We’re working hard to establish Saltend as the world’s first independent and sustainable rare earth processing hub at a time of growing concern for critical metals supply-chain resilience.