Lynas Rare Earths Ltd (ASX: LYC) announced that it has entered into an agreement with the United States Government to build a commercial Light Rare Earths separation plant in Texas, U.S.A, through its subsidiary, Lynas USA LLC.
This move is considered to be a push towards securing domestic supply of essential minerals that are currently dominated by China.
The signing of the agreement follows the announcement on 27 July 2020, that Lynas had signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense for Phase I work on a U.S. based Heavy Rare Earth separation facility in Texas.
Texas facility to serve DIB, EV markets
LYC reported that once that contract proceeded to the next phase, the Texas facility would house both Heavy Rare Earths and Light Rare Earths processing facilities.
The company said that the facilities will serve both the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) and the growing commercial market, including electric vehicles and green technologies made in the U.S. as well as in global markets.
The company said that the project is scheduled to be completed in accordance with the Department of Defense timetable and as part of its Lynas 2025 plan.
Plant production, funding
Once operational, the Texas plant is expected to produce approximately 5,000 tonnes per annum of Rare Earths products, including approximately 1,250 tonnes per annum of NdPr.
LYC noted that the plant will be able to receive material directly from the cracking & leaching plant that Lynas is developing in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Lynas said that the Department of Defense funding is expected to be capped at approximately US$30 million, with Lynas also to contribute approximately US$30 million under the agreement.
Amanda Lacaze, Lynas CEO and Managing Director said: “As the only non-Chinese commercial producer of separated Rare Earths products to the global marketplace, Lynas is delighted by the opportunity to develop a Light Rare Earth separation facility in the United States.
Rare Earth materials are critical inputs to many industrial supply chains, including electric vehicles, electronics and several defence applications. While demand for Rare Earth materials continues to grow, COVID-19 has exposed the risks within global supply chains of the single sourcing of critical materials.
This agreement is consistent with the U.S. Government’s commitment to rebuild the domestic industrial base, while working effectively with partner nations. The Texas plant will ensure the U.S. has a secure domestic source of high quality separated Rare Earth materials. This secure supply will provide the essential foundation for the renewal of downstream specialty metal making and permanent magnet manufacturing in North America.”
*Image of Amanda Lacaze courtesy of Lynas Rare Earths Ltd