Iluka Resources boss Tom O’Leary has applauded the federal government’s efforts to foster downstream processing in Australia, saying growth ambitions ‘should not be constrained by geopolitical tensions’.The aspiring rare earths producer’s managing director’s address to shareholders at an annual general meeting this morning struck a surprisingly nationalistic tone.Iluka has been loaned $1.25 billion from the federal government to bankroll its Eneabba project which will house Australia’s first fully-integrated rare earths refinery once operational in 2025.Speaking this morning, Mr O’Leary said a new raft of investment initiatives in downstream processing, including the US Inflation Reduction act, were not just defensive positions. “They represent foundational investments in the future economic fortunes of those countries,” he said. “We’re fortunate to witness policy heading in a similar direction in Australia.”He went on to say that Australia had its own path in growing its rare earths capabilities that should not be constrained by geopolitical tensions or a lack of national committment. “China currently accounts for 80-90 per cent of all magnet rare earth oxides produced globally. For dysprosium and terbium – the key heavy rare earth oxides – China’s dominance is almost 100 percent,” Mr O’Leary said. “But Australia has its own ambitions for carbon reduction and industrial advancement.”We need to align policy and commercial goals in a way that ensures Australia advances its national interest, that we develop our industrial base and that we build our economic resilience.”More to come.