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The United States and Australia Join Forces Again to Try to Win The Rare Earth Supply Chain
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The United States and Australia Join Forces Again to Try to Win The Rare Earth Supply Chain

On April 19, local time, Australian media reported that Lynas, an Australian rare earth mining company, signed a defense production contract with the United States to jointly monopolize the rare earth strategic supply chain. Lynas is the largest rare earth mining company in foreign countries. However, because Australia did not pay much attention to the rare earth industry before, its rare earth mining and processing technology is still subject to others. On January 22 this year, Lynas Rare Earths signed an agreement with the United States. Plans to establish a light rare earth separation plant in the United States.

The U.S. Constitution is very simple. As an important strategic resource, we have been firmly in control of rare earth resources before. As the country with the richest rare earth resources in the world, China is also a major producer and exporter of rare earths. Our annual export volume and pricing are what we say Forget it. Moreover, we have restricted the export of rare earths a long time ago. As China's rare earth exports become less and less, the United States launched its strategy of reforming rare earths in 2010 in response to China's reduction in exports. Therefore, the cooperation between the United States and Australia is well understood. The United States wants to complete the integration of the rare earth supply chain and monopolize the rare earth resources outside the United States. Australia has resources in its hands, but lacks relevant technologies for mining and processing. In addition, Australia wants to show loyalty to the United States, so the two sides hit it off. The project is directly led by the US Department of Defense, and the US government has also funded it. It plans to build a 5,000-tonne light rare earth separation plant in Texas.

The United States itself is also a big rare earth country, but it once suspended the production of rare earths for various reasons. It has only resumed production in recent years. According to statistics, the United States produced 38,000 tons of rare earths last year, ranking second in the world, second only to China. Moreover, the growth momentum of rare earth production in the United States is very obvious. In addition to China and the United States, Australia is also a large rare earth mining country. Last year, the rare earth mining volume was about 17,000 tons. The remaining rare earth mining volume in other countries is very limited, not as small as China, Australia and the United States.

Why does the United States have to monopolize rare earth resources? In fact, 1 this has a lot to do with the strategy of the United States in recent years. Previously, our understanding of rare earths remained in the military industry and aerospace and other fields. In fact, 2. new energy vehicles, battery manufacturing and other emerging industries, rare earths Also plays an extremely important role. In the past two years, the United States is determined to revitalize the manufacturing industry. The economic stimulus plan proposed not long ago includes support for the United States' battery manufacturing, new energy vehicles and other industries. For example, the rare earth praseodymium and neodymium are important materials for the production of new energy vehicles. In addition, the smart phones, inverter air conditioners, and wind power generation in infrastructure facilities, etc., all use neodymium praseodymium. The United States and Australia will build factories in Texas this time. The annual production of neodymium praseodymium can reach 1,250 tons.

It is foreseeable that with the continuous emergence of new energy technologies in the future, the strategic position of rare earths will become higher and higher. Experts have previously predicted that the global sales of new energy vehicles will be 4.52 million and 6.16 million from 2021 to 2023. With the growth trend of 8.18 million vehicles, the demand for neodymium-iron-boron for new energy vehicles in the next three years will account for 7-8% of the total output, and the demand for neodymium-iron-boron for high-performance vehicles can even reach 15% or more. That's why the United States wants to integrate rare earth resources and seize the opportunity.

The current advantage of the US dollar is built on its relationship with oil, but it is foreseeable that the replacement of fossil energy by new energy is the general trend. In addition, if you want to make achievements in high-tech fields such as mobile communications, artificial intelligence, and robotics in the future, rare earths are topics that cannot be avoided. The United States has waged many wars in the Middle East, wooing major oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, and gained the dominance of international oil transactions. Incidentally, the U.S. dollar has become the world currency. With the passage of time, the current technological powers have laid out new energy fields. If the United States, which loses its oil hegemony in the future, does not respond, it will inevitably be squeezed out of the door.

At present, many countries, including the United States and Japan, have high hopes for Australia's rare earth mines. In March last year, the proven rare earth reserves of Norrance in the Northern Territory of Australia increased by 54%. Australia reported that it has the best undeveloped praseodymium and neodymium deposit outside of China, with a mining life of more than 30 years, but due to the underdeveloped technology in Australia, its mining cost is 30% higher than ours.

The current idea of the United States is to join forces with Australia to integrate and monopolize rare earth resources. Last year, the United States produced 38,000 tons of rare earths and Australia was 17,000 tons. And both have signs of expanding production. In the future, after the United States integrates Australia's rare earth resources, the United States will indeed be able to take the second place in the rare earth supply chain. However, my country's annual production of rare earths last year was as high as 140,000 tons, which is more than the United States and Australia. If it wants to monopolize the international supply of rare earths, the United States must pass our barrier.

And it's worth mentioning that the helper the United States is looking for is not very reliable. Although Australia's rare earth production was once the world’s second largest after China, Australia's rare earth reserves are not many. The data for 2019 shows that Australia's total rare earth reserves are 3.4 million tons. Needless to say, it is not as good as Brazil, Vietnam, Russia, India and other countries. The United States will certainly not protect Australia’s rare earth deposits, and the most important thing is At present, due to Australia’s lack of experience, its mining of rare earth deposits is often accompanied by serious pollution problems. When Australia's rare earths are exhausted, the United States will look for other partners. In the end, Australia can only end up in a deadly end.

It is worth mentioning that 2 At present, we have strict requirements and restrictions on rare earth resources, and my country has also begun to import rare earths from other countries. At present, my country is not only the country with the highest rare earth production in the world, but also the largest importer of rare earths in the future. Our goal is to import rare earths higher than exports and become a net importer. The United States wants to use the dollar-bundled oil strategy to bundle rare earths and compete for the pricing power of rare earths as before. Obviously, it cannot bypass China. Moreover, Russia, as a major rare earth mining country, will not let the United States leave it alone and persuade the United States not to waste its efforts.


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