Molycorp has entered into a cooperative research and development agreement with the US Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory.

Molycorp will team-up with AMES to develop new methods of creating commercial-grade rare-earth permanent magnets.

Ames Laboratory scientists will study several compositions of rare-earth materials and processing techniques to make permanent rare-earth magnets with properties comparable to currently available neodymium-iron-boron magnets.

The material combinations studied will match up with the relative concentrations of rare-earth elements in Molycorp’s Mountain Pass mine, using more cost-effective techniques that leave a smaller environmental footprint than current methods.

Ames Laboratory research lead, Karl Gschneidner, said the partnership will serve to re-energise applied rare-earth research in the US, and will begin to strengthen the intellectual infrastructure in rare earths.