Business & Economy

Australia seeks to expand rare earth processing to bypass China

Sydney, Australia, March 16 (EFE).- Australia announced Wednesday a plan to expand the country’s processing of rare earths, used in high-tech industries, with the aim of overcoming its great dependence on China.

“China currently commands 70 to 80 percent of its production and continues to consolidate in supply chains. This initiative is designed to address this domain,” Australian Energy Minister Angus Taylor said in a statement.

Under this plan, Australia will spend AUD 243 million ($175 million) on four rare earth processing projects.

Australia has a large amount of rare earth minerals, but it does not have the capacity to process them, mainly because China does it cheaply, which has worried the United States since Beijing in 2019 threatened to ban exports of these resources during the trade war between the two powers.

The boost to the critical minerals and rare earths sector will allow Australia to have a greater presence in supply chains linked to the manufacture of smartphones, rechargeable batteries, computers, solar panels, electric vehicles, defense and high-tech material.

Nearly half of the funding announced Wednsday will go to the construction of a nickel, manganese and cobalt battery material refining facility in the Western Australia region, run by Pure Battery Technologies’ pCAM center in partnership with Poseidon Nickel.

The government also announced Wednesday another fund of AUD 250 million to accelerate, mainly, investments in projects that strengthen the leadership of this country in the minerals sector.

“The world is becoming a more uncertain place and we want to ensure Australia is a safe partner for local and global businesses that need the critical minerals we have here,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Australia, the world’s leading producer of lithium and the second of zirconium, has one of the largest reserves on the planet of critical minerals used in advanced technologies, such as aerospace, defense or telecommunications. EFE


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