Brazilian miner Serra Verde has started commercial production of MREC from Phase I of its Pela Ema deposit in Minaçu, in the Brazilian state of Goiás.

Serra Verde CEO Thras Moraitis said: “The start of commercial production is a critical milestone in our development and means we are now the only company outside Asia to produce at scale all four critical rare earths used in the production of permanent magnets.

“Our product can play a critical role in supporting the growth in production of electric vehicles [EV] and wind turbines that are vital to the energy transition. As we ramp up to achieve nameplate capacity, Serra Verde is also working to build downstream partnerships to support the development of long-term, sustainable supply chains.”

Once full production is achieved, Serra Verde is expected to produce at least 5,000t per year of rare earth oxide.

Rare earth oxides are essential for manufacturing high-efficiency permanent magnets used in EV motors and wind turbine generators.

MREC samples from the Pela Ema deposit have already been accepted by major customers, and offtake agreements for a substantial portion of the planned production are secured with established processing companies.

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By GlobalData

Serra Verde has initiated efforts to enhance Phase I capacity at Pela Ema through plant optimisation.

Additionally, the company is evaluating the potential for a Phase II expansion, which could potentially double the run-of-mine production before 2030.

Pela Ema is characterised as large, long-life ionic clay deposit rich in high-value heavy and light rare earth elements (REEs), including neodymium (Nd), praseodymium (Pr), terbium (Tb) and dysprosium (Dy), which are crucial for the energy transition.

The company is also committed to being the most sustainable supplier of rare earth materials globally. It aims to achieve this by leveraging the superior sustainability credentials of its operations and adhering to world-class operating standards.

Serra Verde claims that its mining techniques are low-risk and open-pit, utilising simple, established processing technologies without hazardous chemicals, leading to lower operating costs and reduced environmental impacts.

The company added that its operations are powered entirely by renewable energy sources.

The mining site is located in an established mining district with access to technical skills and developed road and port infrastructure, which enhances the operation’s sustainability profile.

In June 2023, Serra Verde started Phase I commissioning of its Pela Ema deposit in Minaçú, Goiás, Brazil.

The company developed an integrated REE mining and processing operation in the country and secured a capital injection of $150m (730.47m reais) to advance the project.