General Motors has entered a long-term agreement with Las Vegas-based rare earth mining company MP Materials to secure U.S.-sourced and manufactured rare earth materials, alloys and finished magnets for its electric vehicle motors.
MP Materials owns and operates the Mountain Pass mine in California, which is the only active and scaled rare earth production site in America. GM’s partnership with the company will allow it to source domestically-developed neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets for its Ultium Drive electric motors, which will be used in future EVs like the GMC Hummer EV, Cadillac Lyriq and Chevy Silverado EV, among others.
“Although the development of permanent magnets began in the U.S., there is virtually no domestic capacity to produce sintered NdFeB magnets today,” the automaker said in a press release published Thursday. “This strategic collaboration seeks to accelerate the restoration of the U.S. rare earth supply chain at commercial scale with high resiliency and environmental sustainability.”
GM and MP Materials say they “have signed a binding agreement on terms and expect to enter into a definitive supply agreement shortly.” In addition, the two companies say they will look to “collaboratively engage from a public policy perspective to seek policies that are supportive of the establishment of a secure, U.S. rare earth supply chain.”
Securing a steady supply of rare earth materials is viewed as a critically important aspect of producing battery-powered vehicles, as these materials are required to make EV motors and batteries. While the majority of rare earth mining currently occurs abroad, MP Materials Chairman and CEO James Litinsky says partnerships like this will help bring more rare earth mining and manufacturing to the U.S.
“Restoring the full rare earth supply chain to the United States at scale would not be possible without U.S. manufacturers like GM recognizing the strategic consequence and acting with conviction,” Litinsky explained. “We are proud to welcome GM as the foundational automotive customer for our new magnetics facility and join forces with a company fully aligned with our vision to reinvigorate the American manufacturing spirit.”
Separately, GM also announced this week that it would partner with German supplier VAC to build a plant in the U.S. that will manufacture permanent magnets for the electric motors. VAC is described as “a leading global producer of advanced magnetic materials and the largest producer of permanent magnets in the Western Hemisphere with nearly 100 years of experience.” The plant is expected to begin production of permanent magnets in 2024.