China to buy rare earths from US as part of trade pact
SEE ALSO: Chinese pump Sh100m into projectsThe trade agreement does not involve neodymium or praseodymium, the two most commonly used types of rare earths. China dominates their production, as well as the manufacture of rare earths magnets. After rare earths are processed, they must be turned into magnets, otherwise they are of little value to electronics and weapons manufacturers. Neither scandium nor yttrium are currently produced in the United States. However, several junior miners are developing US mines to produce them and other rare earths. The initial trade deal effectively gives those junior miners a guaranteed customer, a step that should help in the hunt for project financing. “This provides an additional market for U.S. producers,” said Anthony Marchese, chief executive of Texas Mineral Resources Corp which is developing the Round Top mine in Texas with USA Rare Earth. The Round Top project has scandium and yttrium deposits, as do projects under development by UCore Rare Metals Inc and Rare Element Resources Ltd.
SEE ALSO: President Uhuru’s 2019 State visitsThe trade deal comes as the Pentagon has moved in recent months to help fund US rare earth and rare earth magnet projects, part of an attempt to help create a domestic supply chain free from China, according to documents seen by Reuters. The rare earths tension between the two countries goes back to at least 2010, when China limited exports to Japan after a diplomatic dispute, sending prices for the niche metals spiking and fueling concerns across the US military that China could do the same to the United States.
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