Samples of rare earth elements are converted to glass discs inside the testing building at the Molycorp Minerals Mountain Pass Mine in Mountain Pass, California August 19, 2009. The open-pit mine at Mountain Pass, California, holds the world's richest proven reserve of "rare earth" metals, a family of minerals vital to producing the powerful, lightweight magnets used in the engines of Toyota Motor Corp's Prius and other hybrid vehicles as well as generators in wind turbines. To match feature
"Western Australia is well known for its iron-ore and liquefied natural gas industry. However, there is huge potential for our rare earths and lithium products and (our) knowledge to make a real and strategic impact," www.miningweekly.com quoted Reg Howard-Smith, chief executive of the Western Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME), as saying.
Howard-Smith is scheduled to go on a 13-day tour of Germany, France and the UK to promote Australia's rare earths. He will lead a 17-member delegation that includes industry, research and government representatives.
The delegation will visit companies involved in electronics, batteries, product and specialist metals research; automotive and transport service providers; suppliers of material; as well as universities and large research entities.
"The ability to process rare earths is key to the development of the sector and Germany and France are keen to apply their expertise and technology to this technically challenging field in association with Australian expertise," he said.
Mr Howard-Smith will be joined by representatives from Hastings Rare Metals, Galaxy Resources, Northern Minerals, East Coast Minerals and Greenland Minerals and Energy.
Representatives from the Department of Mines and Petroleum and Western Australia's Department of State Development, the Australian National Nuclear Research and Development Organisation, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, BASF, Murdoch University, Curtin University and Austrade are also part of the delegation.
China currently dominates the rare earths sector as it feeds more than 95 per cent of the world's appetite for the precious metals often used to manufacture high tech gadgets.
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