UPDATE 1-Lynas says West Australian govt to help approvals for rare earths plant

(Adds background, details on Kalgoorlie project)

Dec 19 (Reuters) - Australia’s Lynas Corp said on Thursday its project to build a rare earths-processing plant in Kalgoorlie will get assistance on management and coordination of approvals from the Western Australia (WA) state government.

The plant was awarded a so-called “lead agency” status by the WA government, which means the state, as lead agent, will assist Lynas with project advice and help it secure approvals within the project’s time-frames, it said.

Being the only proven rare earths miner outside China, Lynas stands to gain from the Sino-U.S. trade dispute as hints from China that it could cut off its rare earths exports to the United States resulted in the world’s largest economy scrambling for new supplies.

Ore mined from Lynas’ Mount Weld in Western Australia will be transported for early processing, termed cracking and leaching to the planned Kalgoorlie plant.

Mount Weld mine holds one of the world’s richest deposits of rare earths, which are crucial in development of everything from iPhones to weapons system.

Lynas had said on Tuesday it failed to secure approval from a Malaysian regulator to increase its lanthanide concentrate processing limit for 2019, however, analysts do not expect it to negatively impact the firm’s profitability.

The Kalgoorlie plant, which is expected to begin operations in early 2023, would create up to 500 jobs during peak construction, Lynas said. (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Sam Holmes)