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Loans for critical mineral projects in Western supply chains tied to environmental approval

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The Export-Import Bank of the United States has issued a non-binding letter of interest to two Australian companies involved in rare earth projects in Australia and Brazil. Media statements by Australian Strategic Materials (ASM) and Meteoric Resources reveal that the U.S. has earmarked a total of $850 million for these ventures: $600 million for ASM’s Dubbo project in New South Wales and $250 million for Meteoric’s Caldeira Project in Minas Gerais, Brazil.

This financing initiative comes in response to Western nations’ efforts to diversify their supply chains away from China, which currently dominates nearly 70% of global rare earth production, as per data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Rare earth elements are crucial for high-power permanent magnets used in electric vehicles and clean energy applications. However, the final approval for the loans is contingent upon environmental approval and due diligence.

Australia has recently emerged as a key player in the rare earth sector. Just last week, Arafura, another major rare earth company, received $533 million in government support to establish Australia’s first ore-to-oxide mine and processing facility.

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