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Australia/US Deal To Loosen China’s Grip On Rare Earths

The US and Australia have agreed to partner more closely on mining and processing of rare earths in a bid to weaken China’s grip on the supply of materials widely used in technology hardware such as smartphones, computers and hi-tech military equipment. Resources Minister Matt Canavan and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met in Washington last week and agreed to work together on financing projects related to critical minerals, including rare earths and other materials, such as lithium.

As he left Washington, Canavan said the meetings laid the ground for collaboration between the US and Australia on financing.

“This work will offer opportunities for new projects to get off the ground. The growing global demand for critical minerals will provide scope for Australian miners to enter stable and secure supply chains to meet growing demand in key economies such as the US,” he said.

The US currently relies on China for the bulk of its rare earths, but the China-US trade war has raised questions about the stability of this supply.

The deal will be a welcome boost for Australia’s under-the-radar rare earth industry. Companies including Lynas, Northern Minerals and Arafura’s Nolans Project are mining rare earths in WA and the Northern Territory.

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