Lynas signs deal with U.S. for light rare earths separation plant

Reuters Staff
(Reuters) - Lynas Rare Earths Ltd said on Friday it had signed an agreement to build a commercial light rare earths separation plant in Texas, at a time Washington is pushing to secure domestic supply of essential minerals that China currently dominates.

Production of rare earth minerals, used to make military equipment and electronics, received a push in the U.S. after the trade war with China fueled worries that Beijing may use its dominance to restrict supply.

The deal comes after Lynas secured initial U.S. Department of Defense funding for a heavy rare earths separation facility in Texas last April, which it is developing with joint venture partner Blue Line.

“This agreement is consistent with the U.S. Government’s commitment to rebuild the domestic industrial base, while working effectively with partner nations,” Lynas CEO and Managing Director Amanda Lacaze said.

The Texas plant would house processing facilities for both heavy rare and light rare earths, the company added.

Lynas, the largest producer of rare earths outside China, said the plant is expected to produce about 5,000 tonnes per annum of the minerals.

While detailed costs are still being finalized, the company currently expects the Department of Defense funding for the plant to be capped at around $30 million. Lynas is expected to contribute by about the same amount.