Pioneer of the
Australian Iron Ore

Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting takes $212m stake in US rare earths major MP Materials

Article by Adrian Rauso, courtesy of West Australian..

Mrs Rinehart’s Hancock Propsecting has recently grabbed about 8.8 million shares of MP Materials Credit: TheWest

Mining billionaire Gina Rinehart is adding to her rare earths investment basket in the Americas, taking a slice of a US giant which has been linked to a tie-up with Lynas Rare Earths.

According to Securities Exchange Commission filings Mrs Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting has recently grabbed about 8.8 million shares of MP Materials, constituting 5.3 per cent of its register.

At current prices that holding equates to $212 million and New York-listed MP’s share price surging nearly 10 per cent on Monday has led some to speculate she is in the midst of snapping up more.

In February Lynas confirmed it had been mulling a potential merger with MP but says the talks ended without a formal proposal.

MP operates the massive Mountain Pass rare earth mine in California, which the company says is responsible for 15 per cent of the world’s rare earths consumption.

A deal between Lynas and the Las Vegas-headquartered MP would have brought together the two biggest rare earths miners outside of China, which has a stranglehold on the market for the precious materials that are used in industrial magnets, electric vehicles and defence technology.

Rare earth prices dropped 34 per cent in 2023, gutting the bottom line of majors like Lynas and MP, but this has not deterred Mrs Rinehart from strengthening her exposure to the sector.

Her company also notably controls a 5.85 per cent stake in Brazilian Rare Earths, currently worth about $34.3m.

The Brazilian-focused rare earths play listed at the end of last year and has had a strong start to life on the Australian Securities Exchange, despite the weak commodity pricing environment.

Hancock is believed to have invested $21m into BRE during a pre-listing funding round.

BRE is developing the expansive Rocha da Rocha clay rare earths development in the Brazilian province of Bahia State, which hosts number of rare earths exploration projects.

Unlike hard rock rare earths projects — which the likes of Lynas and MP Materials have in their portfolio — clay-based projects are said to be more environmentally-friendly, as they do not require a chemically-intensive cracking and leaching process.