A magnet metal processing facility at Saltend, led by rare earth specialist Pensana, has garnered attention as a significant component of the Mineral Security Partnership between the UK and the US. Paul Atherley, the Chair of Pensana, met with Business and Trade Minister Nusssrat Ghani prior to the inaugural Mineral Security Partnership talks with US Under Secretary Jose Fernandez. Pensana has been recognized as a partner in this new platform, with the participation of the UK, US, and international allies.
During the meeting, Mr. Atherley emphasized the importance of Saltend’s development in supporting the UK’s automotive supply chain, which employs over 780,000 individuals, as it transitions to electric vehicles. The project seeks support from both the UK and US governments, and construction is already underway. The facility is expected to create 150 highly skilled jobs and will play a crucial role in domestic magnet metal provision for electric vehicle and wind turbine components.
Mr. Atherley stated that by 2030, the UK aims to shift from being a major European producer of internal combustion engines to becoming a global leader in the production of electric drive units, manufacturing three million units annually, with a significant portion intended for export. However, the absence of a secure magnet metal supply chain poses a threat to this objective. Pensana is taking steps to establish an independent and sustainable rare earth supply chain, incorporating mid-stream processing to produce magnet metal within the UK. The Saltend project will create 450 jobs during the construction phase and sustain 150 high-value jobs during operation, with room for further expansion. The facility is designed to be flexible, capable of processing feedstock from the Longonjo project in Angola, as well as other rare earth mining projects.
The Minister assured Pensana that the project holds strategic importance for the UK and expressed her commitment to raising support for the venture during discussions with Under Secretary Jose Fernandez as part of the Mineral Security Partnership talks held during the London Metal Exchange Week. The goal of the Mineral Security Partnership is to stimulate private sector investment and collaboration with key government partners, focusing on strategic mining, processing, and recycling opportunities that adhere to the highest environmental, social, and governance standards. This initiative particularly targets critical minerals essential for core technologies like electric vehicles and clean technologies.
Pensana is at the forefront of the Humber Freeport initiative. This transatlantic endorsement follows another notable investment at Saltend, which was highlighted during UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s trade visit to the US earlier this year. Meld Energy’s £180 million hydrogen production plans were announced during the visit, with strong support from Fortune 500 constituent World Fuel Services Corporation.