An Australian firm is looking to make an initial US$ 150 million investment in Sri Lanka’s mineral sands prospects in the near future, according to Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Robyn Mudie.
“Australian mining and mineral sand firms have strong reputation in this global industry and we are keen to partner with Sri Lanka’s mineral sands and rare earth elements industry,” Mudie had told Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen at a recent meeting.
She went on to call for improved discussions between Sri Lanka and Australia with regard to expanding trade and investment between the two nations, particularly in light of the up-coming Commonwealth Business Forum to be hosted by Sri Lanka in November this year.
“We wish to expand our relationship with Sri Lanka by significantly engaging in this sector. I’d very much like to see some confirmation of Sri Lankan interest towards Australian investments in this sector and I believe it will be useful to talk in concrete terms of expanding Australian investments into Sri Lanka,” Mudie said.
Interest in Sri Lanka’s mineral sands sector has been increasing in the recent past with German Ambassador to Sri Lanka Dr. Jürgen Morhard and Chinese Ambassador, Wu Jianghao, having previously eyed the sector.
China is the largest supplier of rare earth minerals and mineral sands to the global market with almost 97 pe cent of global market share. However, Australian companies are reported to control approximately 40 percent of rare earth elements in various countries.
Sri Lankan exports of rare earth minerals totaled US$ 42.7 million in 2012, an increase of 30 percent over the previous year, the majority of which were sold to China. Exports consisted of silica, quartz, graphite, mica and other natural sands.