Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 14

FEATURE ARTICLE

Urban Mining Progresses in Pioneering Effort to Scale Up Rare-Earth Magnet Production from
Recycled Magnets
The only company of its kind in the U.S., the founding team is
made up of a scientifically oriented group including Dunn, CTO
Miha Zakotnik, Executive VP Peter Afiuny, and Chief Software
Engineer Catalina Oana Tudor. The privately held company
is funded by high net worth individuals and raised $25 million
from them in a Series A financing in 2016. Of the startup's fivemember board, three are founders.

Freshly arisen from the flat, arid countryside of central Texas,
a modern 130,000 square foot industrial facility is taking shape
that the leaders and investors of Urban Mining Co. are eager to
blossom into a pioneering, closed-loop magnet recycling and
manufacturing operation. It is designed to recover rare-earth
magnetic materials from end-of-life products and turn them into
neodymium-iron-boron magnetic materials and products that
will be a unique, new domestic source of supply. The accompanying photo of the new facility was taken in early October.
"We have completed construction of the site and shell, and in
the first quarter of 2020 will be ramping up production over the
next three years," Scott Dunn, CEO of Urban Mining, told Magnetics Magazine in an interview with him and other company
executives in early October, reviewing various aspects of the
company's progress. They are targeting for an initial production
output of 250 tons-plus of sintered neodymium (NdFeB) magnets per year with a total plant design capacity in the range of
1,000 to 2,000 tons per year. The plant represents an investment of greater than $50 million overall, said Dunn.

It counts Siemens, Rolls Royce, Parker Hannifin and the
Department of Defense as some of its customers and business
partners so far. It has about 25 employees now and plans to
add more as it phases into expanded operations at the new
plant in the town of San Marcos which is located about halfway
between Austin, its current headquarters and operations site,
and San Antonio.
Central to the effort are two principal, technical operations in
the closed-loop process- one is magnet recycling to obtain the
feedstock of rare earth material, and the other is engineering
and production of magnets for sale. The company has developed its own patented Magnet-to-Magnet (M2M) recycling
process to grind up recovered magnets from products such as
electric motors and disk drives without using caustic chemicals
or water that would generate more waste. Then it uses the
powder to create new magnets, so far primarily for Department of Defense contractors keen to establish a new domestic
source of supply. The company hopes to be able eventually
to supply manufacturers of electric motors as other end-users
including those in the automotive industry.

At present, according to research conducted independently by
Magnetics Magazine, the company appears poised to become
the largest purpose-built recycler-producer of rare earth magnets in the world - and may be already. We know of no other
similar commercial operation that rivals it.
"In 2018, we processed more than 600 tons of hard-disk
drives," said Peter Afiuny, executive vice president. "Currently,
we have 10 tons per year of sintered prototyping capability and
also the capability to produce 350 tons per year of compounded neo for bonded magnets."
Recycled neo magnet blocks from Urban Mining Co.

The process is designed to restore, even improve the magnetic
properties of the recycled NdFeB product. According to the
company, its product exhibits improved performance characteristics including remanence, coercivity and energy product
as a result of its Grain Boundary Engineering (GBE) and Grain
Boundary Modification (GBM) technology while also reducing
the percentage of Dysprosium content.

From left to right, Scott Dunn, Miha Zakotnik, Catalina Oana Tudor,
Peter Afiuny

14

Magnetics Business & Technology *

January/February 2020

"There is a very comprehensive recycling side of our business and we are able to provide tailored recycling solutions for
manufacturers," explains Dunn. "We have a critical recycling

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Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020

Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020
Contents
Editor’s Choice/ Features
Revolutionary Ferrite-Magnet Fault Current Limiter Graduates from Testing and Heads to Market
Continental Transforms Powertrain Division into Vitesco Technologies in Response to High-Growth Momentum to Electrification
Urban Mining Progresses in Pioneering Effort to Scale Up Rare-Earth Magnet Production from Recycled Magnets
Research & Development
Product News
Industry News
Marketplace/ Advertising Index
How Hall Effect Switches Enable Autonomous Vehicles
Tech Tips
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - Cover2
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - Contents
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - Editor’s Choice/ Features
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 5
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - Revolutionary Ferrite-Magnet Fault Current Limiter Graduates from Testing and Heads to Market
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 7
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 8
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 9
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - Continental Transforms Powertrain Division into Vitesco Technologies in Response to High-Growth Momentum to Electrification
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 11
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 12
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 13
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - Urban Mining Progresses in Pioneering Effort to Scale Up Rare-Earth Magnet Production from Recycled Magnets
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 15
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 16
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 17
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - Research & Development
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 19
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - Product News
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 21
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 22
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 23
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - Industry News
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 25
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 26
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 27
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - Marketplace/ Advertising Index
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - 29
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - Tech Tips
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - Cover3
Magnetics Business & Technology - January/February 2020 - Cover4
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