February 2, 2020 / 10:10 PM / 15 days ago

UPDATE 1-Rare earths producer Lynas' Kalgoorlie plant given special status

(Adds quote, details, background on rare earths sector)

Feb 3 (Reuters) - Rare earths producer Lynas Corp said on Monday the Australian government recognised its Kalgoorlie processing plant as a key project for the country and will support regulatory approvals.

“Developing a robust and resilient critical minerals and Rare Earths industry is a priority for the Australian Government and Lynas is in a unique position to contribute to this as we are the only significant Rare Earths producer outside China,” Chief Executive Officer Amanda Lacaze said in a statement.

Its processing plant in the outback town of Kalgoorlie is key to Lynas’ push to extract low-level radioactivity from materials to be shipped to Malaysia for final treatment and with the “Major Project Status” tag, the government will help coordinate and support approvals.

The Kalgoorlie plant will create 500 jobs during the peak construction period, the company said.

Rare earths have grown in prominence since early last year given their widespread use in everything from weapons manufacturing to electric vehicles, with supply dominated by China.

Fears over a supply imbalance has prompted the United States to scramble to secure the materials, and spurred plans to fund the construction of processing facilities in the country.

Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru Editing by Chris Reese

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