Sunday, 21 July, 2019


Lynas touts its independence from China in push for rare earths growth

The push comes as China threatens to curb exports to the United States of rare earths.— AFP  File The push comes as China threatens to curb exports to the United States of rare earths.— AFP File
Conrad Doyle | 09 June, 2019, 12:41

The Buy American recommendation, which would require defence weapons and related products be built with domestically-sourced rare earths, could make it easier to secure financing if investors knew there would be a guaranteed revenue source for new projects, prospective US rare earth miners said.

Add to that, numerous magnet plants outside China - the biggest are in Japan and Germany - are still reliant on China for their rare earth inputs. "There will be significant growth outside China so long as customers are confident in supply".

The country's tariff tactics might present an image of Fortress America battling its adversaries, but a new critical minerals strategy advocates greater co-operation between the US and its friends.

The Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation had stated that China is now the world leader in rare earth separation and purification.

According to Bloomberg, the Commerce Dept. report recommended a number of steps, including improving the government's understanding of domestic sources of rare earths and expediting approvals of mining permits.

Julie Klinger, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, was interviewed for a recent article on whether China can prevent the export of rare earth elements to the United States.

Currently, China is by far the world's largest producer of rare-earth minerals, with a USGS report on China's rare earth industry indicating they produce over 95 percent of the worldwide output of rare-earth minerals. And yet, it isn't: the only U.S. producer, MP Materials, has been shipping all its output from the Mountain Pass mine in California to China because there is now no refining capacity available to handle its output anywhere else in the world, its biggest shareholder said.

"We welcome this report and hope that the Commerce Department's "Call to Action" results in some real action from Washington", said James Litinsky, co-chairman of MP Materials.

"If you put yourself in China's shoes, this is their main weapon in the trade war", said Mark Seddon, an Argus metals analyst.

Negotiations for supply to the DOD and the DLA gave Lynas the confidence to enter into a joint venture with Blue Line Corp to build in Texas the only separation plant for heavy rare earths outside of China, she said.

Texas Mineral Resources Corp is pushing to develop the Round Top rare earth deposit in a remote corner of the state's western edge, and Rare Element Resources Ltd is moving forward on a Wyoming project.

California's Mountain Pass mine is the only operating USA rare earths facility.

The report includes 61 specific recommendations - including low-interest loans and a buy American provision for defense companies - to increase U.S. rare earths supply.

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