B&C Speakers Joins Rare Earth Industry Association (REIA)

July 1 2019, 00:35
A group of stakeholders from the Rare Earth supply chain met recently for The Global Rare Earth Industry Association Conference, June 25- 27 in Brussels, Belgium. The meeting was also the first General Assembly to establish a global association to develop an integrated, de-risked and sustainable value chain for rare earth materials. The Rare Earth Industry Association (REIA) was founded by 12 organisations, including Italian loudspeaker manufacturer B&C Speakers, which was already part of a European-funded project committed to the reuse of rare-earth magnets.

The Rare Earth Industry Association (REIA) was founded by Chinese producer Golden Dragon, trading firm Noble Group, Japan's Mitsubishi Research, B&C Speakers Italy, JL Mag Europe, Danish pump manufacturer Grundfos, German recycling firm RockLink, French rare earths recycler Carester, Germany's Brugger Magnets, the Chinese Urban Environment Institute, Canadian mining company Mkango and Japanese trading company MTC.

The founding members represent a sample of the entire rare earths supply chain, from mining to finished products and research. The initiative is funded by EU independent body the European Innovation and Technology Raw Materials Fund.

Rare earths elements (REEs) are vital components in a vast number of domestic and industrial devices, and they are particularly crucial components in sustainable technologies. Currently, there is no association representing the rare earth industry in Europe or world-wide. The association aims to build an intelligence network, that is, a permanent rare earth association based in Europe.

Rare earth elements are essential for the transition towards sustainability. However, rare earths, are critical metals and only one country, China, dominates the entire supply chain with its own domestic pitfalls such as environmental pollution, illegal mining, impacting international market. As highlighted by the European Rare Earths Competency Network, boosting supply security through enhanced cooperation among stakeholders should receive top priority. 

However, enhancing collaboration between the REE supply chain is a major challenge because unlike many other types of metals and elements, like cobalt and magnesium, there was no REE industry association who gathers stakeholders together to represent the sector's interests. The Global Rare Earth Industry Association is now that association, offering "a unique rare earth platform by creating a global network that will be instrumental in mitigating business risks," the association said. 

SUSMAGPRO European project
B&C Speakers was already involved in the SUSMAGPRO (Horizon 2020) European project, a four-year EU-funded research and innovation project. Called SUSMAGPRO (Sustainable Recovery, Reprocessing and Reuse of Rare-Earth Magnets in a Circular Economy), the project was granted funding from the Horizon 2020 program of the European Commission and consists of 19 project partners (including B&C Speakers) and one associated partner from nine European countries.
Participants in the SUSMAGPRO kick-off event that took place in in Pforzheim, Germany, on June 3-4, 2019. (Photo courtesy of B&C Speakers).

The main objective of this project is to develop a recycling supply chain for Rare-Earth magnets in Europe and to demonstrate these new materials on a pilot scale within a range of application sectors. SUSMAGPRO’s overall objective is to develop and demonstrate four novel pilot-plant solutions for the clean and sustainable recycling of permanent magnets at Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) 6–7 (technology or system prototype demonstrated in relevant / operational environment). In doing so, secondary REE material will be remanufactured into new magnetic products, which will eventually be displayed in a traveling roadshow in the second half of the project.

Europe imports far more NdFeB (Neodymium Iron Boron) magnets than it manufactures (>1,000 tonnes manufactured per year), which puts its industry in a vulnerable position.

The aim of SUSMAGPRO is to identify, separate, reprocess and reuse recycled magnets at a pilot scale with a multidisciplinary team located across Europe, activating a circular economy business model. Instead of dumping this critical resource in landfill sites or exporting RE-containing waste to other parts of the globe, SUSMAGPRO will use the latest technology to extract the elements from magnets scrap, and will use short-loop circular economy routes to re-integrate the metals into new products for the European market. The project will target main applications including automotive rotors, water pumps, loudspeakers and wind turbines. 

B&C Speakers will play a key role in the design and assessment of loudspeaker drivers from recycled magnets, the company states.
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