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US-Australia partnership on critical minerals strengthened via new talks

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan has held talks with US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross and other officials in Washington DC to strengthen US-Australia ties on critical minerals and rare earths.

Australia is one of the top five producers of critical minerals such as antimony, manganese, rare earths, and ilmenite and rutile – two titanium minerals – and is the second largest producer of rare earths, with 13 per cent of global production.

Australia is also the world's largest producer of lithium, accounting for 47 per cent of global production, and has the world’s largest nickel reserves and second largest cobalt reserves, as well as abundant reserves of graphite.

The US-Australia Critical Minerals Dialogue talks agreed that each country’s respective export finance agencies will work together at financing potential critical minerals and rare earths projects. The Dialogue also agreed to plan for another follow-up meeting in February 2020.

“I have now met with Wilbur Ross several times to discuss our bilateral cooperation on critical minerals. I’m leaving the United States satisfied that we have made significant progress through the Critical Minerals Dialogue, today bringing other parties to the table for discussion,” Mr Canavan said.

Participants in the Washington talks included Secretary Ross and officials from the US Department of Commerce as well as officials from the US Department of State, US Department of Energy, US Department of Interior and the US Geological Survey.

The Coalition Government announced last week that projects to extract critical minerals would be eligible for support through Export Finance Australia (EFA), including the Defence Export Facility.

“Today’s meetings laid the ground for collaboration between the US and Australia on financing. This work will offer opportunities for new projects to get off the ground. The growing global demand for critical minerals will provide scope for Australian miners to enter stable and secure supply chains to meet growing demand in key economies such as the US.

“Critical minerals and rare earths are becoming increasingly important products in our modern world and Australia has key supplies of these products. With the increasing global uptake of electric vehicles, smart phones, renewable energy and defence applications which need these minerals, Australia is well placed to grasp opportunities.”

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