Australia's Clean TeQ to supply rare earths metal to Panasonic unit

Dec 19 (Reuters) - Australia’s Clean TeQ Holdings Ltd said on Thursday it entered into an agreement to supply scandium oxide, used for making high-temperature-resistant metal alloys, to a unit of Japan’s Panasonic Corp.

Under the offtake agreement, Victoria-based Clean TeQ will supply up to five tonnes a year of scandium oxide - a rare earths metal - from its Sunrise project in New South Wales to Panasonic Corp Global Procurement Co, once production gets underway.

Japan has been pushing to strengthen its resource policy and secure supplies of key commodities, including rare earths, as the resource-poor country faces an increasing risk of supply disruption due to global geo-political tensions.

While the Sunrise project is being developed as a producer of nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate, it also has large high-grade scandium deposits.

The supply deal is part of Clean TeQ and Panasonic’s collaboration to increase the usage of scandium aluminium alloys in consumer and electronic products, the Australian mine developer said.

Japan aims to lower its reliance for rare earths - used in electric vehicles and lithium batteries - on any single country to 50% or less by 2025. It also wants to raise its self-sufficiency ratio through equity investments to 50% by 2025.

After China restricted export quotas of rare earths to Japan in 2010, the country has been investing in rare earths projects globally, helping it to trim its reliance on Beijing by a third. (Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)