As the trade war between China and the United States deepens, concern over access to Rare Earths and other critical minerals is spreading all over the world. While the U.S. is taking steps aimed at increasing domestic REE supplies — most recently manifesting in the Trump Administration’s invocation of the 69-year-old Defense Production Act and efforts to increase international cooperation with allies, Australia, too, is taking action.
“Australia will step up production of rare earths and other militarily sensitive ‘tech metals’, the country’s defence minister said Monday (Aug 12), as doubts grow over the reliability of Chinese supplies.”
According to Ms. Linda Reynolds, Australia has “at least 40 per cent 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 (…)” — deposits that “could safeguard supplies for allies including the United States and Britain.”
The possibility of Western allies obtaining metals from Australia had been discussed “at length at recent Australia-US ministerial consultations and in discussions with British counterparts,” reports the Straits Times.
The news comes on the heels of an Australian mining company striking a deal with a German industrial company to develop Rare Earths in northern Australia after terminating a previous agreement with a Chinese firm.
Earlier last month, a partnership between the U.S., Australia and Japan which includes the setting up of a separation facility in the United States was announced.
The next few weeks an months will be instrumental in the “tech war” — the competition to see which country will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age. As the U.S. begins to take steps aimed at breaking free from the shackles of Chinese Rare Earths dominance, it is encouraging to see this increased level of cooperation with important strategic allies like Australia.