Published: Sun, June 09, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Lynas touts Chinese independence in push for rare earths growth

Lynas touts Chinese independence in push for rare earths growth

China produced about 71% of the world's output past year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

While Australia-based Lynas can not match China's rare earths processing capability, it is hoping that its role as the largest rare earths miner and the largest processor outside of China will help it forge new relationships and fuel expansion projects. "But because China had the domestic expertise and industrial infrastructure, this enabled the industry to locate relatively easily".

A report by the U.S. Commerce Department recommends the government strengthen relations with foreign companies that provide minerals critical to military development.

Reports also indicate that the facility will be able to accommodate the separation of lanthanum (used in studio lighting and projector lights) and neodymium (used in flints and lighters), as well as other light rare-earth minerals.

China supplied 80% of the rare earths imported by the United States from 2014 to 2017, with Chinese state newspapers last month reporting Beijing could use that as leverage in the ongoing trade dispute between the two. And yet, it isn't: the only United States 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 can make connections", he said. In September 2016, the DLA held stocks of several critical minerals worth up to $1.15 billion.

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The report was released Tuesday amid a trade war between the United States and China.

"It is not a good idea to be reliant on a single major source of any material", Amanda Lacaze, chief executive of Lynas, told Reuters on the sideline of the conference.

Blue Line Corp.'s expansion is part of a joint venture with Lynas, an Australia-based rare-earth mining company.

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. However, rare earths aren't as hard to come by as the term signals, but its refining process is costly and generates pollution.

The report also recommends the US expand public-private partnerships to spur investment from industry, and that the country focus on expanding domestic production of critical minerals to break its import reliance.

California's Mountain Pass mine is the only operating USA rare earths facility. It also called for closer cooperation with USA allies, which dovetails with DLA's outreach to miners in Africa and elsewhere.

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