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Australia-US partnership on critical minerals a win for WA

Today’s signing of a formal partnership between Australia and the United States on developing both nations’ critical mineral assets could underpin the next wave of Western Australia’s successful resources sector development.

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia’s (CME) Chief Executive Paul Everingham said Australia was the world’s second largest supplier of rare earths, with several critical minerals such as lithium, cobalt, neodymium and dysprosium produced in WA.

“This partnership has the potential to lead to the development of new rare earths mines in Western Australia and further trade between the two countries,” he said.

“It recognises that Australia, the US, and much of the western world, does not have reliable supplies of the key minerals used in the technologies that are likely to shape our world over the coming decades. 

“Given that Australia accounts for more than half of the new rare earths projects in the global pipeline, WA is in the box seat to emerge as a global supplier of choice.”

Mr Everingham said the drive to reduce the world’s dependence upon fossil fuels and decrease carbon emissions, coupled with the growing demand for technology that is faster, smaller and more efficient, was expected to foster significant growth in the rare earths market in the coming decade.

Rare earth minerals are a group of 17 elements used in everything from smartphones, computer chips, solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicles. Importantly for the US, they are also a vital part of the defence supply chain, being used in everything from weapons guidance systems to improving the durability of electronics used in the field.