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Joint venture gives Siemens magnet boost

GLOBAL: Production of magnets for wind turbines will be eased after German manufacturer Siemens and Australia's Lynas Corporation said on Thursday they would set up a joint venture for the production of neodymium-based rare-earth magnets.

A neodymium-based permanent magnet used in wind turbines, made by Vacuumschmelze of Germany
A neodymium-based permanent magnet used in wind turbines, made by Vacuumschmelze of Germany

Neodymium magnets are the strongest type of permanent-magnet made, manufactured from an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron. They are used for the production of energy-efficient drive applications and wind turbine generators.

The partnership will secure a supply chain from mine to magnet to end application, with Siemens taking the larger 55% share. Lynas is in the process of completing a neodymium plant in Malaysia.

The chief executive of Siemens' drive technologies division, Ralf-Michael Franke, said: "This planned joint venture has strategic importance for us to secure a long-term and stable supply with high-performance magnets." Lynas added that a stable and secure supply chain would enable the rare-earth magnets market to grow to its full potential.

Meanwhile, large deposits of rare-earth minerals crucial for making high-tech energy products have been found on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, Japanese scientists said on Monday. This could potentially end China's monopoly in mined neodymium – it has 97% of the world's known reserves.

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