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South Africa Spearheads Rare Earths Drive, Boosting Green Energy Transition

Phalaborwa's Rare Earths Project Attracts Global Investment for Eco-Friendly Energy

by Adenike Adeodun

South Africa is rising as a key force in diversifying the global supply chain of critical rare earth minerals, vital for the green energy transition. Phalaborwa, Limpopo, stands out as a hub, hosting all four permanent magnet rare earths crucial for this shift, including neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium, essential in manufacturing battery electric vehicles, wind turbines, and other green technologies.

Investors are showing keen interest in Phalaborwa due to its low-cost recovery process and the environmental benefits it offers. Phosphogypsum, a by-product of phosphoric acid production, provides a near-term production avenue, avoiding the risks of traditional mining.

Rainbow Rare Earths, listed on the London Stock Exchange and led by CEO George Bennett, plans to use advanced separation technology. This approach processes waste material into rare earth oxides with an impressive 99.95% purity and cuts both capital and operating costs.

The Phalaborwa project, bolstered by a $50 million investment from TechMet and backed by the US International Development Finance Corporation, contributes to the global move towards a net-zero world. This funding reflects the increased emphasis on securing critical mineral supplies for clean energy technologies.

Mining Weekly reports that this project not only boosts the green economy but is also likely to keep attracting significant funding, given the vital role these rare-earth metals play in the technology-driven industrial age.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, the International Development Finance Corporation’s investment in TechMet, a company focusing on producing, processing, and recycling critical minerals, is substantial. Supported by commodities trader Mercuria Energy Group, TechMet is advancing a $300 million fundraising round, indicating a strong future for rare earths in the clean energy industry.

As the world aims to increase the supply of technology metals for a low-carbon future, South Africa’s role in this transition is becoming increasingly important.

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