Siemens AG has selected Molycorp, Inc. to supply rare earth materials over the next 10 years from its Mountain Pass, California facility for incorporation into Siemens’ high-efficiency, direct drive wind turbine generators. Molycorp will supply rare earth materials to Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd. (Shin-Etsu), which will produce the rare earth magnets Siemens intends to utilize in its wind turbines.
Siemens officials noted that key factors in choosing Molycorp were Molycorp’s ability to provide greater global diversification and reliability to its supply chain, as well as the environmental and process innovations Molycorp has built into its Mountain Pass rare earth facility. Among those innovations are the facility’s ability to recycle water, regenerate the chemical reagents needed in rare earth production, generate power from a high-efficiency natural gas cogeneration power plant, and dispose of mine tailings through an innovative paste tailings system.
The magnets to be used in its direct drive wind turbines will contain reduced levels of heavy rare earth elements (HREEs), such as dysprosium, said the Siemens official. In collaboration with Siemens Wind Power, Molycorp and Shin-Etsu will improve the magnet material to reach zero HREEs. At the same time, Siemens added, supply chain reliability will be increased and costs will be reduced.
“The contract with Shin-Etsu and Molycorp is an important step for us in sourcing magnet materials for our direct drive wind turbines,” said Morten Rasmussen, Head of Technology at Siemens Wind Power and Renewables Division. “We strive for diversification in the sourcing of these components to improve independency from specific markets.”
“We are very pleased to have been selected to supply Siemens and Shin-Etsu with rare earth magnetic materials for this important clean energy supply chain project,” said Geoff Bedford, Molycorp’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “This agreement underscores Molycorp’s commitment to partner with our customers to support their product development efforts and serve as an integrated, long-term provider of reliable rare earth supply.”