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Australian Strategic Materials says hot commissioning begins at its rare earth metals plant in South Korea

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(Kitco News) - Australian Strategic Materials (ASX:ASM) announced today that commissioning has begun at its Korean rare earth metals plant in Ochang Province, South Korea, marked by a visit to the plant by Deputy Prime Minister of South Korea, Mr Hong Nam-ki.

In a statement, the company said it has commenced hot commissioning on its neodymium furnace, which included firing up the plant's furnaces, processing feed material and casting the plant's first ingots of neodymium metal.

This represents the first phase of commissioning activities, with additional modules of the Korean metals plant undergoing construction and installation. These first phase commissioning activities are planned to continue through the first half of 2022, with the full scale, 5200 tpa plant due for completion in the second half of calendar year 2022, the company added.

Managing Director David Woodall said the hot commissioning milestone was an important one for the company as it moves towards the completion of the Korean metals plant.

"Australian Strategic Materials is moving closer to producing commercial quantities of titanium and permanent magnet alloy, as part of our strategy to provide an alternative, secure supply chain for critical metals. We were also extremely honoured to have Deputy Prime Minister Mr Hong Nam-ki visit us at this significant stage for the business," he added.

Australian Strategic Materials is an integrated materials business and emerging "mine to metal" producer of critical metals. The company's cornerstone Dubbo project (100% owned) is a potential long-term resource of rare earths, zirconium, niobium, and hafnium located in central-western NSW, Australia.

Additionally, the company's pilot plant in South Korea has demonstrated the commercial scalability of the process and successfully produced a range of high-purity metals and alloys, including titanium, neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and zirconium. Following this success, ASM's first metallisation plant is being constructed in South Korea to initially supply a range of critical metals including rare earth metals and alloys, zirconium, and titanium.

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