Company Plans to Realize Rare-Earth Separation Technology

Canada-based Innovation Metals Corp. (IMC) has received funding support for the Phase-One commercialization of its “RapidSX” rare-earth element (“REE”) separation technology from its joint venture partner Hexagon Energy Materials Limited.

According to the information, Innovation Metals Corp. executed a binding investment agreement whereby Hexagon has secured an option to acquire a 49 percent interest in its “RapidSX” technology for the separation of REEs, using an advanced, proprietary and low-cost approach. IMC developed and piloted this technology with the assistance of 1.8 million US-Dollar in funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, resulting in the production of commercial-grade separated REE oxides at the pilot scale. The two joint venture partners have agreed to form the joint venture American Innovation Metals (“AIM”). While IMC will contribute the RapidSX technology and the expertise for REE separation, Hexagon will contribute commercial and marketing skills. Furthermore, it would intend to invest two million US-Dollar into the construction of the RapidSX commercial demonstration plant and pay four million US-Dollar to IMC as deferred consideration, payable from Hexagon’s share of future AIM cash flows.

As reported, the RapidSX technology combines the time-proven chemistry of solvent extraction with a new column-based platform, which significantly reduces time to completion and plant footprint, as well as lowering capital and operating costs. “This would potentially mitigate current concerns about the extreme concentration of the REE supply chain in China, with greater participation by Western producers and manufacturers,” IMC stated. Its technology “has also been successfully applied to the separation and purification of other metals in solution, such as Ni, Co and Fe in leach solutions produced from Ni laterite ores, as well as Li from Li brines.”

AIM would serve as the incorporated joint venture vehicle for Hexagon and IMC to commercialize RapidSX, a press release said. The future demonstration facility would have a planned production capacity of 60,000 to 80,000 kilograms of REE oxides per year, with construction and commissioning planned for completion in the fourth quarter of 2020.

As underlined by IMC, there is a substantial market opportunity. In 2018, the market size of primary REE oxides was 184,000 tons with a market value of 3.2 billion US-Dollar, the company referred to analyses. According to projections, it is forecasted to grow 60 percent (to 293,000 tons/year) in terms of market size, and more than 85 percent (to 6.3 billion US-Dollar) in market value by 2025. Certain sectors are projected to have significantly higher growth rates, the company stated.

(GR32020, Page 43, Photo: Ucore Rare Metals Inc.)