Pentagon Awards Contract for Rare Earth Elements to Australian Company

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The Pentagon has awarded a $30 million contract to an Australian company to build a processing facility for light rare earth elements in Texas, part of former President Donald Trump’s initiative to make the United States less dependent on China for critical natural resources, the Defense Department said Monday.

Lynas Rare Earths Ltd, the largest rare earth element mining and processing company outside of China, will construct the plant for separation of light rare earth elements, or LREEs, which are used in defense and commercial applications such as petroleum refining, glass additives, and magnets used in electric vehicle drivetrain motors and precision-guided munitions, the Pentagon said.

The contract is a consequence of a Trump executive order signed in 2017 under the authority of the Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III technology investment agreement.

When completed, the plant in Hondo, Texas, about 45 miles west of San Antonio, will make Lynas producer of 25% of the Earth’s rare element oxides.

It’s the second contract in as many years the Pentagon has signed with Lynas. Last year, it agreed to build a separation plant along with Blue Line Corp. for heavy rare earth elements (HREEs).

“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,” Lynas’s CEO Amanda Lacaze said in a statement, according to The Epoch Times.

She also said Lynas is the only non-Chinese commercial producer of separated rare earth products to the global marketplace.

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Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.

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