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Mt Weld pit looking north. Image: Lynas

The United States Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded Lynas Corporation a phase one contract to construct a heavy rare earth separation facility.

The DoD will fund the phase one project, with Lynas and United States-based rare earths processor Blue Line to complete planning and design work for the facility.

Lynas expects further contract awards from the DoD for commercial scale production and operation of the heavy rare earth separation facility after phase one milestones are completed.

The DoD plans to complete a merit evaluation of Lynas, Blue Line and any other parties selected for the construction of phase one.

Lynas chief executive and managing director Amanda Lacaze said the company was looking forward to working with the United States DoD on this project.

“We are delighted to be selected for phase on by the DoD,” Lacaze said. “We have confidence in the strength of our proposal and in our ability to meet the conditions set by the DoD for the development of a successful heavy rare earths separation facility.

“(This) announcement creates the foundation for a facility in the United States that will assist the US to avoid the supply chain vulnerability that has been exposed over the past year.”

Lynas operates one of the highest grade rare earths mines in the world, that is the Mt Weld site in Western Australia.

The company has been focussed on growing in the rare earths’ space within the past few months, working to bring more rare earths downstream processing to Australia.

Last December, Lynas announced that it would build a cracking and leaching plant for rare earth minerals in Kalgoorlie, which will be the first step in turning the historic mining city into a rare earths hub.