August 3, 2011 / 4:45 AM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Australia's Lynas Corp: rare earths recoveries exceed plan

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KALGOORLIE, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Australian miner Lynas Corp , looking to break China’s grip on the global market for rare-earths, is running ahead of plan for metal recoveries from its recently commissioned Mount Weld concentrator, the firm said on Wednesday.

Lynas aims to meet 20 percent of world demand for rare earths from its operations in west Australia. Currently, China produces about 97 percent of world supply of rare earths, which are used to make high-tech electronics, magnets and batteries.

“I’m pleased to say we are exceeding design-rate recoveries already,” Executive Chairman Nicholas Curtis said at the Diggers and Dealers conference, a day ahead of the official opening of the Mount Weld plant in Western Australia.

Lynas still expects to start production at its processing plant in Malaysia by year-end, once it addresses environmental concerns and secures pre-operating licences.

The company expects a supply deficit for rare earths to persist through 2015, with demand seen exceeding 170,000 tonnes a year compared with expected production of 150,000 tonnes including output from Lynas and Molycorp .

Lynas shares fell 1.9 percent on Wednesday in line with the broader market . (Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Ed Davies)

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