Saltend Chemical Park in Hull has been chosen by British firm Pensana Rare Earth to build the UK’s first rare earth processing facility in a move which could create 100 direct jobs and many more in the supply chain.
The facility would be one of two major producers of major producers outside China that produce rare earth oxides, a critical component in permanent magnets, essential to the offshore wind and electric vehicle industries.
The material is integral for the construction of direct drive wind turbines and electric vehicles such as Teslas.
Currently, only Lynas Corporation produces rare earth oxide outside of China from facilities in Australia and its home nation of Malaysia.
Pensana said the processing facility would place the UK at the centre of the green energy transition as both the UK and EU look to grow their wind power output over the next 20 years.
Though the exact figures are yet to be confirmed, based on a previously proposed scheme by Peak Resources, the project would see investment exceeding over £100 million and provide around 100 direct jobs and a multiple of indirect support opportunities.
Pensana Chairman Paul Atherley said: “The Saltend Chemicals Park offers an exceptional range of services allowing us to plug into power, water, reagent supplies and services and to recruit a highly skilled local workforce at internationally competitive rates.
“It is very clear that it is no longer acceptable for British and European companies to import the raw materials critical to the Green economy from unsustainable sources.
“The Saltend facility has the potential to become a world class producer of rare earth oxides and to help establish a sustainable supply chain for the manufacture of powerful permanent magnets critical for the offshore wind and electric vehicle industries in the UK and Europe.”
A spokesperson added that it had been impressed with the Northern Powerhouse initiative when weighing up potential sites for the facility.
The Saltend Chemicals Park is already a cluster of leading chemical and renewable energy businesses including BP Petrochemicals, Ineos, Nippon Gohsei and Air Products.
The 370 acre site, which is managed by the px Group, has had £500 million of investment over recent years.
Pensana has gained the necessary permissions for a feasibility study into the prospect of creating a fully integrated supply chain for rare earth permanent magnet production in the UK.
Gerry Grimstone, UK Minister for Investment, said: “We very much welcome the proposal to establish a fully sustainable rare earth oxide magnet metal processing facility in the Humber region.
“This facility is an important step in the establishment of a permanent magnet supply chain in the UK which could support a range of industries important to building back greener and our Net Zero ambitions.”