Trump’s Quest to Quit China’s Rare Earths Hits Outback Australia

Aug. 7, 2019, 11:39 AM

The remote Outback region of northern Australia would seem an unlikely outpost in the simmering global trade war, but the mining hot spot may help solve a critical issue for the U.S.—the supply of rare earths.

Last October, two U.S. Geological Survey scientists visited a newly recognized type of rare earths deposit about 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Halls Creek in Western Australia. Rare earths, a group of 17 vital elements needed in components for missile systems, consumer electronics and electric vehicles, have become a more important battleground after China signaled it may restrict shipments to the U.S.

Browns Range project in Western Australia.
Source: Northern Minerals Ltd.

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