Canadian-based Avalon Rare Metals Inc., a mineral development company, selected Ascension Parish, Louisiana, as the site for its rare earth elements separation plant and refinery.
Construction of the $300 million Geismar, Louisiana, facility will depend on a final investment decision by Avalon in 2013. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project would create 175 new direct jobs, and indirect jobs would result.
"Our team investigated over a dozen sites and found that the Geismar site offered several important advantages, including proximity to producers of the chemicals needed in the process, excellent transportation infrastructure, a well-trained workforce and a favorable business environment," said Don Bubar, the Avalon CEO.
LED began working with Avalon officials in early 2011 to identify potential sites for a rare earth separation plant and refinery. The company is conducting a definitive feasibility study targeted for completion in the second quarter 2013. At that point, Avalon would announce its final investment decision and complete project financing, he added. The company evaluated potential sites in Canada and the U.S. before choosing the Louisiana site, where the company has an option to purchase approximately 150 acres.
The Geismar plant and refinery would work in conjunction with Avalon's mining and processing operations in the Northwest Territories of Canada, where concentrates of rare earth elements rich in the scarce "heavy rare earths" would be shipped via rail to Ascension Parish. From that concentrate, Avalon would refine 10 rare earth elements used in the production of color in flat-screen TVs and providing high-strength permanent magnets essential for hybrid and electric vehicles. Currently, China produces 95 percent of the global "rare earths" supply, and inventories have tightened after China began reducing exports in 2010, LED said.
Gov. Bobby Jindal said, "This announcement shows that Louisiana continues to be the best place for chemical and energy companies to invest because we offer a world-class infrastructure, a strong business climate and the most skilled workforce in the world."
"We are thrilled to welcome Avalon to Ascension Parish," said Tommy Martinez, Ascension Parish president. "Their investment reinforces that Ascension Parish has the infrastructure, industry mix and business climate necessary to foster success. We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with them."