SINTEF and REE Minerals will collaborate on an EU project to establish a European value chain for extracting and processing rare earth elements.
The project, SUstainable EuroPean Rare Earth Elements production value chain from PriMary Ores – abbreviated as SUPREEMO, brings together 11 leading European participants from industry and academia. The SINTEF research institute is the project coordinator, and REE Minerals will supply raw materials for processing.
The EU is contributing €7 million to the project under the Horizon Europe framework program, the EU’s primary program for research and development.
The goal is to ensure the cost-effective and environmentally sustainable supply of rare earth elements to European industries and strategic sectors that currently rely heavily on imports from China.
Rare earth elements comprise 17 different chemical elements with unique properties, some of which have valuable applications. Certain elements, such as neodymium and praseodymium, are crucial for creating powerful magnets used in electric motors and wind turbines.
“Rare earth elements are critically necessary within a number of technologies, especially in the context of the energy transition. The EU has a clearly expressed strategy to reduce the dependence on China in this strategically important area. This is an ambition that SINTEF aims to contribute to, and this project is a significant step in this direction,” says project manager Arne Petter Ratvik of SINTEF.
Europe’s largest deposit
REE Minerals will play a key role in the SUPREEMO project by contributing raw materials from the Fen field near Ulefoss, Norway, Europe’s largest deposit of light rare earth elements.
“We are proud to contribute, along with SINTEF and other project partners, to building a European value chain for rare earth elements based on development projects we are conducting at the Fen field. The deposits here provide Norway with a unique opportunity to develop an industry that is both commercially interesting and strategically necessary for Europe,” says Thor Bendik Weider, Chairman of REE Minerals.
The project aims to develop further technologies demonstrated in previous projects to reach Technology Readiness Level 7, involving a full-scale demonstration plant with the goal of processing ten tons of ore into enough rare earth elements for 50 kilograms of magnets. Based on this, a business plan for full-scale production will be developed and presented to investors.
Source: REE Minerals