Australia raises loan to rare earths developer, announces more grants

Yangibana project. Credit: Hastings Technology Metals

Australia’s government said on Tuesday it will increase its loan to rare earths developer Hastings Technology Metals, and pledged to hand out $35 million to other companies developing critical minerals assets, as the country pushes to secure its position as a green superpower.

Australia is revising its critical minerals strategy, backed by its endowments of minerals vital to the energy transition such as rare earths, lithium, nickel, and copper.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said last year the country was seeking to build up its critical minerals processing sector and looking to attract investment from allies.

The government raised its financial support to Hastings by A$80 million ($56 million) to account for higher costs and the recent strength of magnet rare earth prices, its resources minister said, bringing total support to the company to A$220 million.

Australia’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) approved an A$140 million dollar loan early last year.

The loan will be used to fund the construction of a rare earths mine, processing plants and associated infrastructure, resources minister Madeleine King said, and will deliver a mixed rare earths carbonate.

The Australian Government has also released guidelines for A$50 million in grants to help develop the critical minerals sector, support downstream processing, create jobs across regional Australia and support global efforts to achieve net-zero.

Grants in a range of A$1 million to A$30 million will be doled out to support projects that will strengthen Australia’s sovereign capabilities in critical minerals, King said in a separate statement. Applications will be open from 17 January to 20 February 2023.

($1 = 1.4335 Australian dollars)

(By Melanie Burton; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee)

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