Inward-investing Pensana has revealed early stage plans for major expansion of its operations in East Yorkshire.
The rare earth specialist, making strong headway in funding its £150 million separation facility at Saltend Chemicals Park, is now looking across the road to develop a magnet metal operation at Yorkshire Energy Park. A letter of intent has been signed with the land owners, a consortium headed by Hull’s Sewell Group. At the heart of it would be electric furnaces powered by offshore wind.
A timeframe, as well as level of investment, has yet to be revealed, with a scoping study underway, but it is envisaged a further 60 jobs could join the 120 to be created at Saltend. The The London Stock Exchange-listed business has underlined how a lack of secure magnet metal supply chain in the UK could threaten a transition from internal combustion engines to electric drive units in the automotive sector. Pensana is now examining the conversion of rare earth oxides, which are to be mined in operations it is establishing in Angola, southern Africa, before being shipped to the Humber for refining.
The letter of intent with YEP covers the ‘site of a future permanent magnet metal facility within the park’ as well as the supply of zero carbon electricity – terms which have already been established for the Saltend plant for a battery storage development at YEP fed by offshore wind. The site would feature a range of bespoke facilities for the processing of rare earths in magnet metals, research and development and supply chain activities.
Paul Atherley, Pensana chair, said: “The partnership between YEP and Pensana is part of a broader study being undertaken to demonstrate how the UK can draw on its chemical engineering heritage, and by connecting to offshore wind, create resilient supply chains to support the UK’s automotive sector in its transition from a major producer of internal combustion engines to be a world leader in the manufacture of electric drive units.”
Having broken ground at Saltend in summer 2022, Pensana recently secured a significant element of its fundraising, with global investment banking powerhouse ABG Sundal Collier covering 60 per cent of the anticipated build cost.
The signing of the latest letter of intent was also attended by the Vice Chancellor of University of Lincoln, the academic institution working with Pensana and YEP to create a regional specialised centre of engineering excellence, training and higher education there for the Humber region. It has also just agreed a collaboration with University of Hull on freeport-related opportunities, with Pensana an early forerunner and YEP a strong advocate.
Chris Turner, YEP chair, said: “We welcome the opportunity to deepen our collaboration with Pensana and the University of Lincoln on this nationally significant project. It represents another milestone for YEP and the Humber Freeport in delivering a zero carbon/advanced technology industrial cluster on the Humber.”
Prof Juster added: “This collaboration not only propels opportunities for the growth of research, development, and supply chain activities, but also sets a new standard for sustainable energy practices. Together with our two esteemed partners, we are pleased to play a part in shaping a future in which the Yorkshire Energy Park stands as a beacon of excellence in engineering, training, and higher education for the entire Humber region, bringing economic benefit as well as supporting our Net-Zero goals.”
Humber Gateway offshore wind farm connects to the grid just yards from both sites, with further developments landing north of Hull. Proposals for 200MW of battery storage have been eyed, with Pensana looking at 10MW.
Original artice – https://business-live.co.uk/all-about/yorkshire-humber