Avalon Rare Metals Inc. has selected an Ascension Parish site for a possible rare earth elements separation plant and refinery, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Monday in a news release.
The company had reported in April that it was eyeing Canada or the U.S.
Construction of the $300 million Geismar facility will depend on a final investment decision by Avalon in 2013.
The project would create 175 new direct jobs, and the state Economic Development Department estimates 297 new indirect jobs would result, according to the news release.
The Geismar plant and refinery would work in conjunction with Avalon’s mining and processing operations in the Northwest Territories of Canada, where concentrates of rare earth elements rich in the scarce “heavy rare earths” would be shipped via rail to Ascension Parish.
From that concentrate, Avalon would refine 10 rare earth elements used for such purposes as providing color in flat-screen TVs and providing high-strength permanent magnets essential for hybrid and electric vehicles.
China produces 95 percent of the global rare earths supply, and inventories have tightened after China began reducing exports in 2010.
LED began working with Avalon officials in early 2011 to identify potential sites for a rare earth separation plant and refinery.
The company is conducting a definitive feasibility study targeted for completion in the second quarter of 2013. At that point, Avalon would announce its final investment decision and complete project financing.
The company evaluated potential sites in Canada and the U.S. before choosing the Louisiana site, where the company has an option to purchase about 150 acres.
“Our team investigated over a dozen sites and found that the Geismar site offered several important advantages, including proximity to producers of the chemicals needed in the process, excellent transportation infrastructure, a well-trained workforce and a favorable business environment,” Avalon President and CEO Don Bubar said.
“We are thrilled to welcome Avalon to Ascension Parish,” said Tommy Martinez, Ascension Parish president. “Their investment reinforces that Ascension Parish has the infrastructure, industry mix and business climate necessary to foster success. We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with them.”