AN Ellesmere Port manufacturing company has been hailed for its hard work and dedication to the rare earth permanent magnet industry which is key for future technologies such as electric vehicles.

The town's MP Justin Madders was full of praise for Less Common Metals (LCM) following a recent tour of the North Road factory.

He met with director Ian Higgins to learn about the critical rare earth element – neodymium iron boron.

LCM specialises in products based on rare earth elements which are fundamental for future technologies such as electric vehicles and wind turbines.

Mr Madders' visit comes after the SME manufacturing firm secured further support from the UK Government.

It has now been awarded funding on two occasions to carry out feasibility studies on rare earth supply chains and to consider the requirements of a magnet plant in the UK.

Rare earth-based permanent magnets are the most powerful magnets commercially available and find use in many key applications such as electric vehicles, wind power, low energy pumps and chemical couplings.

The rare earth elements required for such magnets are critical materials and the current over dependence on China for supply gives huge strategic vulnerabilities, hence why it would be strategically beneficial to have a magnet plant in the UK.

Mr Madders said: "I found the meeting very interesting, and it certainly raises some serious questions about the risks we face by having so much critical infrastructure in the hands of one country.

"We definitely need a strategy to avoid being beholden to one country for such an important set of products."

The funding has been guided through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) as part of the Automotive Transformation Fund.