The groundbreaking marked the beginning of the company’s mission to fully restore the U.S. rare earth magnetics supply chain, according to an April 21 press release from MP Materials.
The magnets are used in a variety of clean energy, information technology, defense and industrial applications.
“Increasingly, the world right now is electrifying across every front imaginable, and so the demand for rare earth magnets is skyrocketing,” said Matt Sloustcher, MP Materials’ senior vice president of communications and policy.
MP Materials first announced it was bringing the facility to Fort Worth on Dec. 9, when it also announced a partnership with General Motors Co. to supply U.S.-sourced and manufactured rare earth materials, alloy and finished magnets for the electric motors in over a dozen vehicle models.
Sloustcher said MP Materials plans to begin production at the Fort Worth facility in late 2023.
“Our local, state and national economic and mobility goals require secure development of rare earth magnets, and I am proud that Fort Worth will serve as a center for our nation’s focus on advancing this effort,” Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker said in the release.
But in addition to the larger picture, MP Materials’ new facility will create about 150 high-skilled manufacturing and engineering jobs and 1,300 indirect jobs connected to the facility’s construction.
“This incredible investment will not only create more than 100 new jobs for hardworking Texans but will also bolster the state’s supply chain in high-tech industries while solidifying Texas as a mecca for advanced manufacturing and innovation,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in the release.
Sloustcher said one of the main reasons why MP Materials chose to open its facility in AllianceTexas, a 27,000-acre master-planned community by Hillwood Development Co., is because of “aligned values” with Hillwood in terms of moving quickly to get the site built.
In addition, Sloustcher said MP Materials chose to open in the Alliance area because the workforce in the Dallas-Fort Worth area “is prepared to support this type of work.”
“This will be a manufacturing facility, but it’ll also be an engineering headquarters,” Sloustcher said. “There’s a number of great universities in the area. There’s a strong workforce.”
Ross Perot Jr., chair of Hillwood and The Perot Group, said in the April 21 release that MP Materials is “reshoring important next-generation manufacturing jobs to America.”
“We’re proud that AllianceTexas can partner with MP Materials to play a key role in America’s ability to power its future,” Perot said in the release.
The Fort Worth facility will play a major role in MP Materials’ process as a whole. MP Materials owns and operates the Mountain Pass Rare Earth Mine and Processing Facility in California.
Rare earths are a group of 17 elements, Sloustcher said. Those most crucial to the magnetic supply chain are neodymium and praseodymium, which power things like electric motors, mobile devices and wind turbines.
Sloustcher said the process to get these specific rare earth elements begins at the Mountain Pass facility, where the elements are mined from ore, and a concentrate of the mixed rare earth elements is created. The second step consists of separating the elements into their individual forms, called rare earth oxide.
That separated rare earth oxide will go to the new Fort Worth facility, where it will be reduced to metal, made into a magnetic alloy and then finished into a magnet, Sloustcher said.
“So, [production] starts in California and ends in Texas,” Sloustcher said.
One of the main benefits of the magnet manufacturing facility is job creation, according to Chris Strayer, executive vice president of economic development for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.
“Everything that goes on [in AllianceTexas] is impactful to the community because it’s creating jobs, creating investment and just creating opportunity for the community,” Strayer said.
Strayer also said the industry behind MP Materials itself will put Fort Worth on the map as the world becomes more reliant on clean forms of energy.
“It’s certainly something of high importance to the country in general, and to have it in Fort Worth is fantastic,” Strayer said.
Fort Worth City Council approved a seven-year tax abatement agreement at its Jan. 25 meeting with MP Materials.
The agreement calls for MP Materials to invest $40 million in construction at the site by Dec. 31, 2023, and bring an additional $60 million in business personal property to the project. The agreement requires the company to create at least 30 full-time jobs at the start with an average annual salary of over $80,000 and at least 90 jobs at full operation, according to city documents.
The tax abatement for real property and business personal property at the site is capped at $2.76 million, per the agreement. The city of Fort Worth is expected to earn $1.8 million in ad valorem taxes from the project over those seven years.
In addition, Tarrant County commissioners were briefed on a potential tax abatement agreement with MP Materials at its May 10 meeting. The proposal calls for a seven-year tax abatement from the county totaling $801,500. However, it is unclear when the commissioners would vote on the agreement.
“MP aims to make a positive contribution to the communities where we live and we work, and we are hopeful this facility will do that,” Sloustcher said.
General Motors partnership
As part of the move to open a magnet manufacturing facility in Fort Worth, MP Materials is partnering with General Motors to produce alloy and magnets for its electric vehicle programs, according to the April 21 press release.
Anirvan Coomer, executive director of General Motors global purchasing and supply chain, said in the release that GM will use products from the upcoming Fort Worth facility in the GMC Hummer EV, Cadillac Lyriq, Chevrolet Silverado EV and over a dozen more electric models.
“The new MP Materials magnetics facility in Fort Worth, Texas, will play a key role in GM’s journey to build a secure, scalable and sustainable EV supply chain,” Coomer said in the release.
According to the release, MP Materials’ Fort Worth facility will produce magnets powering about 500,000 EV motors per year.
“GM has been clear that they want to be a leader in developing EV supply chains in North America,” Sloustcher said. “We want to be a leader in bringing the rare magnetic supply chain home. So there was a lot of alignment from a business standpoint and a value standpoint.”
Sloustcher said the partnership with GM represents another aspect of what MP Materials is trying to do—create its products “in the most environmentally sustainable way possible.”
“When you think about these magnets, they’re used across life, but they’re essential to ... all of these technologies that are helping address CO2 emissions,” Sloustcher said. “So we believe it’s essential that the materials that enable those products are produced responsibly.”