Australia’s Lynas beats profit estimates as prices of rare earths soar

(Reuters) – Australia’s Lynas Rare Earths posted a better-than-expected profit for the half year on Friday, helped by a rise in prices of rare earths it produces, particularly neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr).

NdPr is one of the most important minerals that Lynas mines, and is used by car makers to make magnets for electric vehicles. Rare earths are also used in a wide range of everyday goods, including iPhones and hard disc drives in laptops.

The company said interim net profit after tax came in at A$40.6 million ($31.94 million)for the six months ended Dec. 31, compared with A$3.9 million a year ago – 56% more than a UBS estimate of A$26 million.

“The Rare Earth market appears to have been less affected by the (COVID-19) crisis than some markets. Electric car penetration appears to be accelerating in Europe and Asia,” Lynas said in a statement.

Threats from China, the world’s largest producer of rare earth minerals, to stop exports of the minerals used to make weapons and high-tech equipment to the United States has left Washington scrambling for alternative channels of supply.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded $30 million in funds to build a facility in Texas to Lynas, which is the world’s largest producer of rare earths outside China.Meanwhile, the company said work for a processing facility in Kalgoorlie and design work for a U.S.-based Heavy Rare Earths separation facility was underway.