Solvay’s La Rochelle facility in France is the sole site in Europe capable of processing light and heavy rare earths in industrial quantities. Courtesy of Solvay.

Cyclic Materials, a Kingston-based startup focused on recycling rare earth elements from magnets in wind turbines, magnetic resonance imaging machines, electric vehicles and other electronic waste, inked a deal with Solvay, a Belgian chemical company, on June 18, which will see recycled mixed rare earth oxide (rMREO) from Cyclic Material’s Hub100 facility in Kingston shipped off to Solvay’s La Rochelle facility in France later this year. Once the rMREO arrives at Solvay’s operation, it will be used for electric vehicles, wind power and electronic applications.  

This recent agreement is an extension of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that was signed by both companies in February 2023. Since the agreement was signed, Cyclic Materials rMREO product has been validated by Solvay’s rare earth separation process, confirming the technical and commercial feasibility of Cyclic’s rare earth material.  

The EU has made significant strides in reducing the West’s near-total dependence on China for rare earths and magnets, and this relationship between Cyclic and Solvay creates a great overseas partnership to solidify Canada’s role in closing this gap in the global energy transition, said Ahmad Ghahreman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Cyclic Materials, and An Nuyttens, president of Solvay, in a joint-statement email to CIM Magazine.  

Cyclic Materials’ long-term goal is to develop facilities in North America, Europe and Asia to meet the increased demand for domestically sourced rMREO. Cyclic Materials’ Hub100 facility first opened on June 6 and has the capacity to recycle 10 tonnes of magnetic material annually, which is then used to create rMREOs. 

This agreement will also aid Solvay in establishing its rare earths hub in La Rochelle for the permanent magnets value chain. Solvay’s facility in France is currently the only site in Europe that is able to process light and heavy rare earth materials at an industrial scale.