U.S., Australia to discuss rare earth minerals

* Newspaper predicts big expansion in military cooperation

* Rudd would welcome more U.S. use of Australian ports

By Arshad Mohammed and Sonali Paul

MELBOURNE, Australia, Nov 6 (BestGrowthStock) – The United States
and Australia will discuss how to ensure supplies of rare earth
minerals in talks on Monday that will cover defense, space and
cybersecurity cooperation, U.S. and Australian officials said.

Speaking ahead talks between the U.S. foreign and defense
ministers, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would not
comment on a newspaper report that Australia had agreed to a
big expansion of military cooperation with the United States.

The Australian newspaper reported this would include more
visits by U.S. ships, aircraft and troops, saying the access to
Australian facilities would allow the United States to increase
its presence amid concern about China’s military expansion.

The United States has been uncomfortable about China’s
decision to slash rare earth export quotas generally and to cut
shipments to Japan, with which it is embroiled in a territorial
dispute over islands they both claim in the East China Sea.

China, which makes 97 percent of the current global supply
of rare earth minerals needed for TV screens, iPhones,
computers and semiconductors, has begun to cut its exports.

“It is not, whether it’s China or anyone else, wise to be
so dependent upon a single source for elements that are
critical to many of the most advanced civilian and military
technologies that countries like Australia and the United
States produce and utilise,” Clinton told reporters.

“I’m sure that we’ll discuss in the context of AUSMIN,
since it does have direct military and defence pertinence, how
best we can work together to ensure … there is a broad-based
global supply of these critical minerals,” she added at a news
conference with Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.

The centerpiece of Clinton’s two-day visit to Melbourne is
Monday’s Australia-United States Ministerial, or AUSMIN, which
will include Clinton, Rudd, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates
and Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith.

Australia’s Arafura Resources (ARU.AX: ) recently signaled it
was ready to press ahead on its Nolans rare earths project in
Australia after raising A$90 million ($87.5 million) in a share
placement.

Australia has fought alongside U.S. forces in every major
conflict since World War I, including in Afghanistan, where it
is the largest non-NATO contributor with about 1,550 soldiers.

Neither Clinton nor Rudd would say whether a big expansion
of military cooperation was likely, though Rudd said Australia
would “welcome the U.S. making greater use of our ports … of
our training facilities, of our test firing ranges”.

Australia is Clinton’s last stop on a nearly two-week trip
that has taken her to Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Papua New
Guinea and New Zealand and that has been dominated by U.S.
concerns about Chinese assertiveness with its neighbors.

U.S., Australia to discuss rare earth minerals