U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) Investment
The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has committed to funding TechMet’s $50 million investment in the Phalaborwa rare earths project in South Africa. This funding decision was announced at COP28 and is aimed at increasing the production of metals vital for clean energy technologies.
Strategic Importance of Phalaborwa Project
The Phalaborwa project is recognized for its role in diversifying the Western supply chain of critical rare earth elements. These elements, including neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium, are crucial for manufacturing electric vehicles, wind turbines, and other advanced technologies.
Innovative Processing Method
Rainbow Rare Earths, the project operator, plans to use a novel processing technique to produce separated rare earth oxides. This method offers an alternative to the traditional processing routes that often involve intermediate stages in China, thereby providing a more independent and secure source of rare earth oxides.
Extensive Due Diligence by DFC and TechMetPrior to finalizing the funding agreement, the DFC and TechMet conducted comprehensive due diligence, including site visits and multiple layers of approval, to ensure the investment aligns with U.S. sovereign wealth fund standards.
Adonis Pouroulis, Chairman of Rainbow Rare Earths, and Scott Nathan, CEO of the DFC, have highlighted the project’s significance in supporting the green energy transition and its role in the U.S. supply chain. They also noted the project’s contributions to local economic growth and the diversification of critical mineral sources.
TechMet’s Role and Vision
Brian Menell, Chairman and CEO of TechMet, commended the project’s prospects as an eco-friendly and cost-effective rare earth operation. TechMet’s involvement is aimed at accelerating the production of essential rare earth elements needed for electric vehicles and wind turbines.
Project Details and Sustainability Focus
The Phalaborwa project involves processing phosphogypsum stacks, a byproduct of historical phosphoric acid production. Utilizing Rainbow’s proprietary separation technology, developed with K-Technologies, Inc., the project aims for high-purity rare earth outputs through a safe and environmentally responsible process. Emphasizing circular economy principles, the project seeks to rehabilitate the site both environmentally and economically, as indicated by its preliminary economic assessment.