As nations clamor for ex-China rare earths supplies, Lynas urges cash support – by Anthony Barich (SP Global – October 14, 2020)

A Lynas Corp. Ltd. executive said state and federal governments need to put up “cold, hard cash” for the company’s A$500 million processing plant in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, amid broader concerns around proposed foreign investment reforms and a greater focus on ex-China supply chains.

During an Oct. 14 Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum presentation in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, Lynas Vice President of Upstream Kam Leung laid out the “challenges” of developing downstream processing in the state, including higher input costs and higher capital costs, particularly linked to labor, and the “tyranny of distance” of vast trucking expanses.

Leung said government funding was needed for often complex and high-cost downstream processing to be globally competitive, given what he cited in his presentation as an “increasing focus on resilient critical minerals supply chains” among Australia, Europe, India, the U.S. and Japan.

Leung later told media that Lynas had increased product sales into the U.S. in the past two years on the back of increased interest in rare earths due to geopolitics.

While a key lesson from COVID-19 has been the importance of having homegrown manufacturing and value-adding, “the problem in battery minerals is that real policy change and commitments haven’t really emerged,” Association of Mining and Exploration Companies CEO Warren Pearce told S&P Global Market Intelligence on the conference sidelines.

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