Early-stage development has started on the establishment of Pensana’s rare earth processing hub at the Saltend Chemicals Park in Humber, in the UK following the recent £15-million premium equity raise which was strongly supported by the Pensana’s major shareholders.
The Saltend plant will be the first major rare earth separation facility to be built in over a decade and the first to be located in a freeport. The final tax and customs regimes for the Humber Freeport are being finalised but are expected to take the form of an economic enterprise zone, providing a combination of benefits, enabling the rapid development of the project and frictionless trade with European and international customers, Pensana acclaims.
The company is aiming to establish Saltend as an attractive alternative for mining houses who may otherwise be limited to selling their products to China, having designed the facility to be easily adapted to cater for a range of rare earth feedstocks.
Importantly, for many miners around the world that are looking to access to the European and US supply chains, it is becoming increasingly clear that the planned European Union and UK carbon border taxation will mean it is no longer acceptable for manufacturers to source material extracted or processed unsustainably, Pensana notes.
Pensana is advancing the front-end engineering design (FEED) for the Saltend facility, as well as for its Longonjo rare earth mining project, both of which are expected to be finalised in October. Ongoing continuous process pilot plant runs to confirm equipment selection, sizing and specifications will continue through to September, reflecting the importance placed on confirmation of scalability of design, the company highlights. Pensana is working with international engineering group Wood, which has committed 40 experts from its Western Australian, UK and South African operations to work on the FEED for both projects.
The Saltend site is currently being prepared for construction by the pxGroup and is scheduled to be handed over in the next few months.
In Angola, Pensana is working closely with contractors and government officials to progress the Longonjo project, while strictly adhering to travel restrictions arising from the global pandemic, it notes.
“Demands for more secure and responsible supply chains, higher prices on carbon and policies such as the border carbon adjustments are setting the stage for greater transparency and traceability in minerals and metals – enablers of the global energy transition.
“The Humber is already the UK’s busiest port complex; the freeport status with its customs and tax incentives aimed at levelling up, provides the opportunity to establish the world’s first rare earth processing hub within an economic enterprise zone, with the benefits of frictionless trade with Europe and the rest of the world.
“We continue to work closely with our application for funding from the Automotive Transformation Fund, a long-term programme designed to enable the UK to build the world’s most comprehensive and compelling electrified vehicle supply chain, supporting over 160 000 jobs,” chairperson Paul Atherley says.