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Do rare earth materials play an important role in the Australian Industry?

Team Veye | 09 Aug 2021

Do rare earth materials play an important role in the Australian Industry?

China has invariably been using its near monopoly of the rare earths as trade leverage whenever tensions arise between the US and China. As this sector is very important to drive economies, it is now becoming a global priority to find new sources of rare earths, where Australia could play a key role in reducing this dominance

Australia and many other countries have been giving serious thought to reducing this reliance on China. Although Australia is mainly known for its rich deposits of aluminium ore, iron ore, lithium, gold, lead, and diamonds that have been highly commercialised over the years, experts believe that the country also holds a good amount of rare earth deposits.

Experts also say that government support is needed to develop alternative supplies in Australia. In this context, the Australian government has already released a grant to Lynas for the Modern Manufacturing Initiative. The grant will enable Lynas to commercialise an industry-first Rare Earth carbonate refining process. Lynas is the only scale producer of separated Rare Earths outside China

With more than 1,000 tonnes of rare earth deposits in South Australia alone, the country could prove to be one of the world’s leading rare earths producers outside of China.

Rare earths are a group of 17 metals which cluster near the bottom of the periodic table and play a vital role in several industries. Each has unique properties that are vital for a range of commercial and defence technologies, including batteries, high-powered magnets and electronic equipment. The usage in Consumer electronics can be highlighted by the fact that an iPhone contains eight different rare-earth minerals.

Demand for electric vehicles has accelerated. International Energy Agency (IEA) reported a 41% growth in EV registrations in 2020 vs. 2019. Global wind capacity additions increased by over 90% in 2020 to 114 GW. 2021 additions are expected to be approx. 80 GW (IEA).

Australia, with its stable investment environment, is well positioned to benefit from such an emerging scenario.

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