ASM produces key heavy rare earth dysprosium metal in Korea

  • ASM produces 0.76kg of heavy rare earth metal dysprosium (Dy)
  • Dysprosium assay – 99.6%
  • Metallisation process proven for the Dubbo Project’s key permanent magnet rare earth products (dysprosium, praseodymium and neodymium)

ASM, through its partner Ziron Technology Corporation (Ziron Tech), has successfully produced high purity dysprosium (Dy) metal in its laboratory at the Ziron Tech facility.

This work using the ASM metallisation process has confirmed ASM’s ability to produce the key permanent magnet metals (dysprosium, praseodymium and neodymium) and alloys that will be sourced from its Dubbo Project in central west NSW.

ASM Managing Director, David Woodall said: “This is a significant result given the temperatures required for the production of dysprosium metal. Our team has now successfully produced the key permanent magnet rare earth products (dysprosium, praseodymium and neodymium metals and alloys) which will be supplied from our Dubbo Project.”

“Now that the protocol for the production of dysprosium metal has been completed, our team led by Professor Lee, will focus on the production the ferro-dysprosium alloy, which is key in the production of high-temperature NdFeB magnets. Our focus now is to produce zirconium metal by the end of September, Mr Woodall said.

The ASM metallisation process uses significantly less energy and has less impact on the environment than existing industry-standard metallisation processes. This innovative process has been used to produce metals of the planned products from ASM’s Dubbo Project including zirconium, hafnium, and rare earths for permanent magnet alloys in the laboratory. Titanium and the key rare earth permanent magnet metals neodymium and praseodymium have been produced in the commercial pilot plant with dysprosium and zirconium scheduled for later this month. ASM and Ziron Tech continue to finalise the detailed documentation in relation to the acquisition of Ziron Tech with the transaction expected to be completed by the end of October 2020.

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Neodymium Praseodymium production and permanent magnet samples

  • ASM has produced 9kg of Neodymium Praseodymium (NdPr) alloy at commercial pilot plant in Korea
  • The NdPr assayed 99.65%
  • ASM progressing the production of 200kg of NdPr metal as part of an initiative between Ziron Tech and the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH) to produce a 600kg sample of permanent magnets for Korean industry
  • ASM continues discussions with Korean government and industry to support supply chain self-sufficiency

Australian Strategic Materials (ASX: ASM) (ASM) has successfully produced 9kg of the key permanent magnet alloy Neodymium Praseodymium (NdPr) at its commercial pilot plant in South Korea. Following this success ASM, through Ziron Tech, is progressing an agreement with the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH) (a South Korean government research institute) to produce a sample 600kg of permanent magnets for Korean industry over the coming months.

ASM’s success with the production of titanium and key permanent magnet metals (neodymium and praseodymium) at its commercial pilot plant, using its patented high purity metallisation process, has resulted in continued interest from leading Korean companies and government organisations.

This success in the metal production led to ASM agreeing to acquire its joint venture partner, Ziron Tech, on 3 September to continue the development of their clean metallisation process and production of sample permanent magnets for the Korean industry.

ASM Managing Director, David Woodall said: “Over the past few weeks whilst I have been in South Korea, we have had some important discussions with Korean companies and government around ASM’s metallisation technology and the Dubbo Project. Working with KITECH, a respected and leading innovation group in Korea to produce samples of permanent magnets is an important step in ASM’s commercialisation strategy.”

“Korea imports rare earths magnets and has a strong desire to ensure security of supply of these critical materials to their domestic manufacturing sector. This sample production run is set to provide a framework for increased domestic production to help support their local industry. To progress this, ASM will produce the 200kg of NdPr required for the production of the 600kg sample permanent magnets.”

Director Dr. Lim, Kyung Mook of the Korea Institute for Rare Metals (KIRAM) a KITECH division said: “We welcome ASM as a member of the Korean Rare Earth Institute and we are pleased to work with Ziron Tech under the joint research and development for rare earth alloy production. With our close collaboration with Ziron Tech we are enthusiastic to proceed with rare earth magnet production testing using the metal availability from Ziron Tech.”

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ASM to acquire 95% of Ziron Tech

  • ASM to acquire a 95% interest in joint venture partner Ziron Technology Corporation (Ziron Tech)
  • ASM to acquire the ownership of all associated intellectual property including patented metal-refining technology
  • Ziron Tech team will continue development of metallisation technology within ASM

ASM has entered into a binding heads of agreement (HOA) to acquire 95% of its joint venture partner Ziron Tech, which owns patented low emission, high purity metal-refining technology. ASM will also acquire the pilot plant constructed in 2020 to confirm the technology.

The patented technology is a more environmentally friendly, sustainable and cost-effective alternative to existing conventional, energy-intensive metallisation processes. The technology has been successfully applied during pilot plant testwork to all major metals found within ASM’s Dubbo Project including zirconium, hafnium, and rare earths for permanent magnet alloys. In addition, it provides an opportunity to expand its business with the production of titanium metal and associated alloys.

Under the HOA ASM will appoint Ziron Tech’s founder, Professor Jonghyeon Lee as Chief Technical Advisor to lead the Ziron Tech team and the continued development of clean metal processing. ASM is progressing negotiations to commence a feasibility study for larger scale development and commercialisation of the plant.

ASM Managing Director, David Woodall said: “Our joint venture and strong relationship with Ziron Tech since 2016 has achieved significant milestones, with the successful production of metals using this clean technology. This agreement marks the start of the next phase of this positive partnership with Ziron Tech as it becomes part of ASM.”

“With Professor Lee and his team on board, we are looking forward to establishing the first commercial scale metal plant in Korea using the technology, which will help meet the growing demand for ASM’s range of high-purity and value-added critical metals used in advanced technologies, including electric vehicles and clean energy,” Mr Woodall said.

Ziron Tech founder and major shareholder, Professor Jonghyeon Lee said: “We are pleased to further formalise our partnership with ASM and become an integral part of the company. The metal production method we have been testing is set to transform the traditional process of metal production, with it being more efficient and environmentally friendly.”

ASM and Ziron Tech expect to finalise the detailed documentation in relation to this transaction by the end of September 2020 and complete the transaction by the end of October 2020.

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