Australia Eyes Rare Earth Deposits Amid Fears Over China Supplies
Faizan Hashmi 13 days ago Mon 12th August 2019 | 02:30 PM
Perth, Australia, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 12th Aug, 2019 ) :Australia will step up production of rare earths and other militarily sensitive "tech metals", the country's defence minister said Monday, as doubts grow over the reliability of Chinese supplies.
So-called tech minerals are used in everything from smartphones and lasers to avionic systems and electronic warfare technologies. But trade tensions have led China to warn that supplies of could be choked.
"(In) Australia we have at least 40 percent of the known reserves of tech metals, whether it's lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite but also most of the rare earths that our current technology and our lifestyles today relies on," she said.
She added that it had been discussed at length at recent Australia-US ministerial consultations and in discussions with British counterparts.
"What we want to do is make sure we have a guarantee of supply," she told reporters in Perth.
"A lot of our defence equipment and capability actually uses rare earths in its production.
" The key issue for Australia, the US and other allies "is the continuity and guarantee of supply of these rare earths and tech metals as they're now called is an issue of national importance", she said.
Jeffrey Wilson, head of research at the Perth USAsia Centre, said there is roughly US$350 million global trade in rare earths per year, with China also having a disproportionate share of processed products such as carbonates and magnets.
"China's near monopoly means there's no real genuine or reliable international market for rare earths trade," Wilson said.