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US-Australia bid for 'China free' rare earth faces challenges

Mining the minerals is seen as akin to buying a whole cow for the sirloin

A rare earth mine in China's Inner Mongolia. China is said to control 90% of heavy rare earth minerals.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- The U.S. and Australia have launched an ambitious project to create a supply chain for rare-earth metals that does not involve China, an effort that has drawn strong market interest but could face cost obstacles.

Australian rare-earth mining company Lynas announced that it has signed a first-phase contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to build a Texas processing facility.

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