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Australian Rare Earth Miners Push Development Deals To Counter China Grip

Metal News - Published on Tue, 18 Jun 2019

Image Source: Reuters
Reuters reported that Rare earth developers in Australia say they are edging closer to signing deals with new customers that would drive forward their projects amid mounting global supply concerns over the minerals that are crucial to high-tech industries. Australia contains only 2.8% of the world's rare earth reserves, according to the United States Geological Survey. However, the country accounts for more than half of the new projects in the global pipeline, according to data compiled by the Western Australian School of Mines at Curtin University.

Most of Australia's projects, however, have been stuck as developers struggle to secure financing because of the domination of China, which accounts for about 90% of global rare earths processing capacity and one-quarter of the world's reserves.

Even the projects closest to start-up are unlikely to begin operations until 2023 at the earliest, the WASM data shows.

Still, those projects may speed up amid the escalating trade war between the United States and China. The United States imports 80% of its rare earths from China, where state-owned news outlets have reported it could cut its shipments to the US as part of the dispute.

Northern Minerals, which is developing the Browns Range project in Australia's northwest, said last week that it was in "discussions with an internationally recognised industrial group" for supply.

A company spokesman said this week that "The level of interest has increased since the increased news focus on the issue.”

Hastings Technology, which is readying its Yangibana rare earths project in Western Australia for late 2021 production already has one preliminary supply agreement with Germany's Thyssenkrupp and signed another with automotive supplier Schaeffler AG last week.

Mr Charles Lew, Hastings' executive chairman said that "We are working on another German supply agreement which we expect to tie up this year.”

A Thyssenkrupp spokesman said last week that "in the area of rare earths we are regularly on the lookout for new partners to serve the growing global demand."

The reason rare earths projects outside of China have not advanced is because China's vast production, underpinned by cheaper labour and less stringent environmental regulations, means no one else can compete on cost, said WASM Professor Dudley Kingsnorth.

Australia's Lynas Corp, the world's only rare earths producer outside of China, has been supported by low interest loans from Japan's government. Last month Lynas outlined expansion plans including building a U.S. processing plant.

Source :

Posted By : Ratan Singh on Tue, 18 Jun 2019
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