Two firms have teamed up to develop 3D printed rare earth magnets, components for electric vehicles, in the UK.
Aim-listed Mkango Resources and South Yorkshire-based Metalysis have entered into a memorandum of understanding to jointly research, develop and commercialise rare earth metal alloys for use in 3D printed permanent magnets.
These are a crucial component of many electric vehicles, and also feature in other consumer and green technologies, and with many car firms looking to charge up their prowess in electric vehicles, they will need a rising number of magnets for the engines.
Mkango, which has two mining licences in Malawi, will utilise its know-how on the future global demand outlook for these earth magnets, alongside Metalysis' patented technology.
The firms have not provided details on how much they'll be investing in the project, though Mkango said its share of the first phase of research and development costs will be funded out of existing cash resources.
China dominates the rare earth permanent magnet industry, so if this tie-up pans out, it could make significant strides into the rare earth market.
William Dawes, chief executive of Mkango, said:
It is a core part of Mkango’s strategy to be at the forefront of research and technology in every step of the rare earths supply chain; positioning the company as a future low-cost, sustainable supplier of rare earths used in electric vehicles and other green technologies, which have entered a new phase of accelerating demand growth.
Last week, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee to scope out the barriers to the development of the electric vehicle market and explore concerns that sales and take-up haven't been "as advanced as they should be".
Car firms have been increasingly focusing on electric cars, partly as a drive to reduce emissions.
Strict EU rules come into force in 2021 that will make car firms cut the average emissions across their range of cars sold and many are looking at hybrid technology and fully electric cars in a bid to meet the targets.