Germany buys Territory rare earths

Caddie Brain
ABC NT Country Hour

Nearly 300 explorers from around Australia have arrived in Alice Springs to attend the Annual Geoscience Exploration Survey.

And after a record year for exploration, Ian Scrimgeour, director of the Northern Territory Geological Survey says it's set to be the biggest conference yet.

"It's the 12th one in a row in Alice Springs.

"And it comes off the back of an astounding year for exploration.

"We had over $228 million in expenditure last year while back in 2007 we had only $60 million dollars."

"It's probably the biggest increase we've ever had so exploration in the Territory is really talking off.

Mr Scrimgeour says gold has overtaken uranium as the main resource being explored in the Northern Territory.

"We had $70 million spent of gold exploration which is second only to Western Australia."

Arafura Resources have announced at the conference that German company ThyssenKrupp intends to buy 3000 tonnes of a potential rare earths resource, used in motors and high-end electronics.

General manager Richard Brescianini says, the letter of intent constitutes the purchase of 15 per cent of their Nolan's Bore deposit, located 130 kilometres north of Alice Springs on Aileron Station.

"We been dealing with TyssenKrupp since around the middle of last year.

"And the agreement's for 3000 tonnes from a 20,000 tonne output from our mine."

China currently dominates the rare earths market.

But Mr Brescianini says there's now a global interest in obtaining rare earths from elsewhere.

"It's not just the Germans who are interested in resources like this.

"Any country that has really downstream high-tech industries such as Japan, South Korea, nations of the European Union, or even the United States are interested in acquiring supply of rare earths outside of China.

"In recent years the Chinese Government have been imposing some pretty strict export quotas on rare earths leaving China.

"So the rest of the world outside of China are interested in acquiring secure sources of long-term supply of rare earth so they can keep their industries running."

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