Australian Strategic Materials (ASM) said it is targeting 2022 for the start of a metals plant in Korea after positive results were returned on its feasibility.

The company on 9 March signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chungcheongbuk-do provincial government and Cheongju-si city government to locate the plant within the Ochang Foreign Investment Zone in Korea.

The company is hoping to make a final decision for investment by June 2021 for the 5,200-tonne-per-year capacity facility. The plant will process rare earths, titanium and zirconium metals, alloys and powers.

ASM said the project would demand capital expense of US$35 million to $45 million. It has already set aside a $1.5 million investment for a detailed engineering plan.

While the Korea facility is projected to come online by mid-2022, ASM said it will work in the meantime on a collaborative strategy with manufacturers in the country to build its program of independent production.

The facility is just its first phase of growth, ASM officials said: “Once complete, this will provide the template for future ASM metals plants in other regions. 

“We’ll now continue to progress our mine to manufacturer strategy using our pilot plant furnaces in the second half of 2021, with the production of titanium and rare earth permanent magnet alloy powders.”

ASM owns the Dubbo project in New South Wales, which contains zirconium, rare earths (including praseodymium and neodymium), niobium, and hafnium.

Source: Australian Strategic Materials

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