Business

INVESTMENT SUMMIT: Windsor Framework 'something to be celebrated' says Lord Johnson

Department for Business and Trade Minister Lord Johnston (second left) pictured at Ionic Technologies’ Belfast operation with (from left) Lauren O’Neill (Ionic Technologies), Daryl Jane Hinchliffe (Ionic Technologies) and Tim Harrison (managing director Ionic Rare Earths). Picture: Darren Kidd/Press Eye
Department for Business and Trade Minister Lord Johnston (second left) pictured at Ionic Technologies’ Belfast operation with (from left) Lauren O’Neill (Ionic Technologies), Daryl Jane Hinchliffe (Ionic Technologies) and Tim Harrison (managin Department for Business and Trade Minister Lord Johnston (second left) pictured at Ionic Technologies’ Belfast operation with (from left) Lauren O’Neill (Ionic Technologies), Daryl Jane Hinchliffe (Ionic Technologies) and Tim Harrison (managing director Ionic Rare Earths). Picture: Darren Kidd/Press Eye

THE Windsor Framework “is something to be celebrated”, the UK’s Investment Minister Lord Johnson said in Belfast as the city prepares to host a major investment summit.

“Everyone sees the enormous opportunity of being able to trade very freely with the European Union, but also being able to settle into the UK's more advantageous fiscal, tax and legislative environment,” he told journalists.

“One of the biggest opportunities for businesses - particularly if they are involved in manufacturing goods - is to base themselves in Northern Ireland.

“The Windsor Framework is a highly complex and very sensitive process, and we really should celebrate its merits.

“It is a hugely important business environment setting framework that allows people to see the opportunities and then explore beyond that point,” he added.

Lord Johnson, who spent more than 25 years in financial services, was speaking at Ionic Technologies, where the clean tech pioneer announced plans to create up 100 jobs at a new magnet recycling plant in Belfast harbour estate.

Acquired last year by Australian multinational Ionic Rare Earths, the company has developed a revolutionary new technique to recycle permanent magnets, by reusing the geopolitically sensitive and now rare earth elements and making them available for developing new domestic supply chains.

Ionic, which spun out from Queen's University Belfast, was confirmed as the largest recipient in the first phase of a £15 million government fund.

It will use the funding to scale up production of the rare earths needed to manufacture those renewable energy technologies.

Ionic's general manager Thomas Kelly said: “We are demonstrating that our patented process can establish sustainable, sovereign and secure rare earth supply chains by recycling end-of-life magnets, creating an opportunity for the UK to export these strategic raw materials globally.

“With Northern Ireland in the spotlight during this week's Investment Summit, led by Lord Johnson, we are ready to showcase and promote our innovative technology and global potential.”

Tim Harrison, managing director of Ionic Rare Earths, is among more than 120 international delegates attending the investment summit at ICC Belfast.