US and Australian policymakers are actively working to head off future supply bottlenecks of rare earth minerals and other key inputs in the high-tech exports of tomorrow.
Rare earths represent fertile ground for bilateral cooperation between Washington and Canberra. Both governments share an aversion to overreliance on Beijing for supply, and Australia is stepping up as an alternative producer. The country accounts for around 2.8% of global rare earth mineral supply and more than half of the world’s planned new facilities.
China is currently the world leader in rare earths mining and processing by a large margin, a position that leaves US producers susceptible to disruptions. Around 78% of all rare earth imports into the United States come from China. Beijing has brandished rare earths as a diplomatic weapon in the past against Japan, and there have been rumblings of it doing so again in the trade war.
Rare earth minerals refer to a collection of mineral inputs that are critical to a variety of high-tech products, ranging from wind turbines to electric car batteries to fighter jets.