July 9 (Reuters) - Tiny Canadian company Medallion Resources Ltd said on Tuesday it was looking at sites in North America to develop a rare-earth extraction plant, as the prolonged U.S.-China trade war turns the spotlight on the metals.
Rare earths are an essential component in rechargeable batteries that power electric and hybrid cars, while some of them, such as neodymium and dysprosium, are also critical to the motors used in electric vehicles.
“We feel it is the right time to initiate the evaluation of plant sites... as a key part of re-building a North American rare earth value chain,” Chief Executive Officer Don Lay said in a statement on Tuesday.
Rising trade tensions between the United States and China have sparked concerns that Beijing could leverage its dominant position as a supplier of rare earths.
Prices of neodymium metal - used in magnets and speakers - have surged 26.5% since May 20, while those of dysprosium and gadolinium oxide have gained around 10%.
Vancouver-based Medallion, which is looking to produce magnet metal from reddish-brown phosphate mineral monazite, said it was seeking third party proposals for the rare-earth extraction plant.
California’s Mountain Pass mine is the only operating U.S. rare earths facility, while Australia’s Lynas Corp Ltd in May agreed to build a rare earth processing facility in the country with Texas-based Blue Line Corp.
Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila