Australian government commits funding for rare earths project

The new facility will be built 120 km north of Alice Springs in the NT outback and create over 300 jobs.

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An autonomous truck transports iron ore at Rio Tinto Ltd.'s Nammuldi below water table mine in Pilbara region, Australia, Dec. 14, 2016. (Xinhua/Matt Burgess)(zcc)

Australia’s federal government has committed funding to build the country’s first combined mine and refinery for rare earths in the Northern Territory (NT).

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Thursday announced that the federal government will invest up to 840 million Australian dollars (about 556 million U.S. dollars) in the project that will be operated by local mineral exploration company Arafura Rare Earths.

In a joint statement with NT Chief Minister Eva Lawler, federal trade minister Don Farrell and resources minister Madeleine King, Albanese said the refinery would position Australia as a global leader in the ethical and sustainable manufacturing of rare earths and critical minerals.

“My government is focused on a future made in Australia, and this project is an important part of that plan,” he said.

Used to make powerful magnets, rare earths are critical components in the manufacture of personal electronics, robotics, electric vehicle engines and wind turbines.

The new facility will be built 120 km north of Alice Springs in the NT outback and create over 300 jobs.

King said that critical minerals and rare earths would be crucial to emerging technologies that will help lower global emissions.

“To meet our net-zero targets we will need more mining, not less, to build the solar panels, batteries and wind farms we need to reduce emissions,” she said.

The government in January announced 22 million Australian dollars (14.5 million U.S. dollars) in funding for rare earth and critical minerals research to support the goal of becoming a global clean energy supplier.

Xinhua News Agency

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