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Gina Rinehart continues rare earths push with strategic stake in US miner MP Materials

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By Colin Hay - 
Gina Rinehart Hancock Prospecting rare earths MP Materials

Gina Rinehart’s mining arm Hancock Prospecting has added to its growing interests in rare earth elements by acquiring a 5.3% share in US miner MP Materials (NYSE: MP).

The new stake sits in Hancock Prospecting’s expanding global stable of critical minerals assets alongside her 10% interest in Australia’s Arafura Resources (ASX: ARU) and a 5.8% holding in Brazilian Rare Earths (ASX: BRE).

MP Materials’ Mountain Pass project is one of the richest deposits of rare earth elements in the world and produces about 15% of the rare earth content consumed annually.

In 2023, the company re-commissioned the integrated processing facilities at Mountain Pass and began producing separated and refined rare earth products with a focus on high-purity neodymium-praseodymium oxide, the primary ingredient in the world’s most efficient and highest-strength permanent magnets.

US government backing

MP Materials recently received approximately $90 million from the US government to help advance its construction of America’s first fully-integrated rare earth magnet manufacturing facility.

The company began constructing its Fort Worth, Texas manufacturing facility in April 2022 and is currently producing magnet precursor materials in a North American pilot facility.

It expects to commence commercial production of precursor materials in Fort Worth this northern summer and finished magnets by late 2025.

MP will supply these products to foundation customer General Motors to support its North American electric vehicle (EV) production.

Raw material inputs for the factory will be supplied from MP Materials’ Mountain Pass mine in California, where it owns and operates America’s only scaled and operational rare earth mine and separations facility.

At the factory, MP Materials will produce finished magnets, delivering an end-to-end supply chain with integrated recycling and world-class sustainability.

Rare earth magnet race

The neodymium-iron-boron magnets MP Materials is developing are the world’s most powerful and efficient permanent magnets.

They are an indispensable component found in the electric motors and generators that power hybrids and EVs, robots, wind turbines, drones, electronics and critical defense systems.

Global demand is expected to triple by 2035.

The company is leading the way in a US government race to develop a rare earth magnet supply chain as the nation looks to move away from supplies from China.

The US and Australian governments have forged a strong partnership aimed at improving the US rare earth and critical minerals supply chain with significant US funding being poured into a number of local projects.

Australian government backing

In mid-March, Arafura Rare Earths’ development plans to deliver Australia’s first combined rare earths mine and refinery in the Northern Territory received a major boost with the Australian government announcing $840m in new funding.

The government support for the rare earths development at Arafura’s Nolans Project was revealed during a visit to the NT by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who said the funding will unlock further investment from international financiers and commercial banks.

Mr Albanese said the investment will position Australia as a global leader in ethical and sustainable manufacturing of rare earth and critical minerals.