Canadian industrial materials company Neo Performance Materials (Neo) and Australian mining company Hastings Technology Metals have signed a non-binding agreement, marking a step towards a potential strategic partnership for an integrated mine-to-magnet rare earth supply chain.

The agreement outlines the framework for the parties to negotiate on the binding agreement and pursue collaboration on technical and commercial aspects.

Hastings is developing the Yangibana rare earths project in Gascoyne, Western Australia. Covering nearly 650km², the project has significant neodymium and praseodymium resources.

The project involves the initial development of a mine and beneficiation plant, which can produce up to 37,000 tonnes per annum of mixed rare earth concentrates.

The second stage of the project involves the construction of a hydrometallurgical plant to produce 15,000 tonnes of mixed rare earth carbonate.

For Neo, the rare earth concentrate feedstock from the Yangibana project will help to meet its growing requirements for existing and new facilities, including a rare earth separation facility in Sillamäe, Estonia.

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By GlobalData

The company is also developing a sintered rare earth permanent magnet manufacturing plant.

It will further help in negotiating a binding offtake agreement for the supply of up to 70% of concentrate production annually from stage one of Yangibana.

The partnership follows Hastings’ 22.1% investment in the company and a vertical integration of both companies to supply magnets to the electric vehicle traction motor market in Europe and to other electrification markets such as wind turbines, robotics and other advanced technologies.

Neo CEO Constantine Karayannopoulos said: “This initiative supports Neo’s strategic efforts to continue to globally diversify our sources of rare earth feedstock and to provide our customers with maximum supply chain optionality. 

“The Yangibana resource is an attractive potential source of magnetic rare earths –NdPr in particular – and it could contribute to meeting the feedstock targets of our planned Estonia magnet manufacturing facility, as well as a potential future expansion in North America. Neo looks forward to working toward a definitive agreement with Hastings on the material from the Yangibana project.”

Hastings and Neo plan to work towards executing a binding offtake agreement by the first quarter of next year.