Fishers-based American Resources Corp. (Nasdaq: AREC), a company specializing in the extraction and recycling of rare earth elements used in the production of batteries and magnets, has acquired Energy Technologies Inc. in Tennessee. ETI manufactures equipment used in capturing and processing critical, rare minerals that are needed for the growing electrification sector, such as electric vehicles. Since launching in 2015, ARC has acquired more than 19 different patents and technologies for recycling and purifying high-value minerals and elements.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, ARC Chief Executive Officer Mark Jensen said purity in these products is paramount.
“You need to isolate and purify them to a grade of 99.5 to 99.99% purity. So really high-quality products to turn them into either permanent magnets, or lithium-ion batteries,” said Jensen.
ARC uses licensed technology developed by Purdue University to extract critical elements that are already used for batteries and permanent magnets.
Last month, President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to kickstart mining and production of minerals needed to manufacture electric vehicles and renewable energy technologies. Jensen says the government’s efforts are part of national security and reducing the reliance on foreign countries for the raw materials needed in electrification.
“The United States relies over 85% on China today for rare earth elements and for battery grade metals,” said Jensen. “The Defense Production Act is all about trying to develop a supply chain here domestically to be able to produce batteries and produce electric vehicles, electric motors.”
Jensen says the U.S. cannot compete with China in mineral extraction since that country does not have strict environmental laws. He says ARC aims to have a focused removal of minerals, and ETI’s technology is part of the answer.
“The first mile of extraction, or capturing, rare earth and battery metal concentrates from any feedstock is key to being economical. What we’ve seen in the latest technology implemented by ETI is a game-changer, given it can analyze and separate rare earth and battery metals feedstocks in real time and in a very low-cost method at the initial point of extraction,” said Jensen.
While the company does have mining operations, it is also putting greater focus and investment on recycling existing materials already found in end-of-life devices.
“There’s over $3 billion of magnets that go to landfills every year in the United States alone. And so in tackling the problem, let’s go after the lowest hanging fruit, let’s go after the materials that we’re throwing away today. And let’s recycle those first,” said Jensen.
The company is building a facility in Noblesville that will be used for recycling batteries and magnets and selling the recovered materials to industry. The company plans to be operational next month.
“It’s like owning a mine that’s ever growing,” said Jensen. “That’s the great thing about the recycling industry is that our feedstocks aren’t going away as long as people start buying electric cars.”