MP Materials to Build U.S. Magnet Factory, Enters Long-Term Supply Agreement with General Motors
MP Materials Corp. announced that it will build its initial rare earth (RE) metal, alloy and magnet manufacturing facility in Fort Worth, TX. The company also announced that it has entered a binding, long-term agreement with General Motors to supply U.S.-sourced and manufactured rare earth materials, alloy and finished magnets for the electric motors in more than a dozen models using GM’s Ultium Platform, with a gradual production ramp that begins in 2023.
In Fort Worth, MP Materials will develop a 200,000 sq. ft. greenfield metal, alloy and neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) magnet manufacturing facility, which will also serve as the business and engineering headquarters for its growing magnetics division, MP Magnetics. The facility will create more than 100 skilled jobs and be located in the AllianceTexas development owned and operated by Hillwood, a Perot company.
“The significance of this Texas facility is that it will restore end-to-end supply chain, so it will be able to take separated RE oxides from our Mountain Pass Mine in California and transform them into metal alloy magnets in the United States,” Matt Sloustcher, senior vice president of communications, MP Materials told Mining Engineering. “Our vision as a company is to virtually integrate and have a magnetics business that can grow and eventually consume all of the primary production in the U.S., but that will take time.”
MP’s initial magnetics facility will have the capacity to produce approximately 1 kt (1,100 st) of finished NdFeB magnets per year with the potential to power approximately 500,000 EV motors annually. The NdFeB alloy and magnets produced will also support other key markets, including clean energy, electronic and defense technologies. The facility will also supply NdFeB alloy flake to other magnet producers to help develop a diverse and resilient U.S. magnet supply chain.
“MP Materials has built an exceptional magnetics team and important commercial relationships that will accelerate our mission to restore the full rare earth supply chain to the United States,” said MP Materials Chairman & CEO, James Litinsky. “This is a momentous occasion for the reshoring of the American supply chain, and we are grateful for GM’s confidence, commitment and leadership.”
NdFeB permanent magnets are critical inputs to the electric motors and generators that enable EVs, robots, wind turbines, drones, defense systems and other technologies to transform electricity into motion and motion into electricity. Although development of permanent magnets originated in the United States, the U.S. has virtually no capacity to produce sintered NdFeB magnets today.
Like semiconductors, which became linked to virtually every aspect of life as computers and software proliferated, NdFeB magnets are fundamental building blocks in modern technologies and will increase in importance as the global economy electrifies and decarbonizes. Adamas Intelligence, an independent research firm, expects global NdFeB demand to double by 2030 driven largely by increased production of EVs.
MP Materials’ initial Fort Worth metal and magnet facility is deliberately sized to achieve commercial economics at the minimum required scale. This measured approach will enable MP Materials to refine its production processes and technologies, and apply learnings to future, higher volume facilities.
MP Materials’ Fort Worth facility will consume less than 10 percent of the 6,075 t (6,696 st) of NdPr oxide MP Materials expects to produce annually at Mountain Pass. The company envisions building additional alloy and magnet capacity in the future to consume a greater percentage of its primary production and supply growing U.S. demand.
MP Materials’ operations spanning California and Texas will provide certainty of provenance and sustainability. Mountain Pass is a closed loop, zero-discharge RE production facility with a dry tailings process that recycles more than one billion liters of water per year. The facility operates in full compliance with U.S. and California environmental regulations.
The vertically integrated nature of MP’s operation also provides flexibility to optimize recycling pathways using a first principles approach. Waste generated during the alloy and magnet production process will be recycled. End-of-life magnets can also be re-processed into high purity separated RE oxides at Mountain Pass. The recycled oxides can then be refined into metal and, once again, produced into high performance magnets. MP’s vertically integrated operation also allows for the development of more novel recycling pathways that shortcut these traditional approaches. The company is currently developing end-of-life, circular recycling concepts with significant commercial entities.