Donald Trump and Scott Morrison will sign off on Saturday on a plan to secure a stable supply of rare earths and other critical minerals, which could include the development of new mines in Australia, as part of an ongoing push to counter the rise of China.
The two leaders, meeting at the White House, will also commit the Australian Space Agency to work with NASA on plans to return to the Moon by 2024 and eventually a mission to Mars.
An Australian flag is seen with a US flag on the Eisenhower Building for Prime Minister Scott Morrison's state visit.
A senior US administration official said the plan involving critical minerals, which is expected to include the formation of a working group, would be one of the most significant outcomes of what is the first state visit to the USA by an Australian Prime Minister since John Howard in 2006.
China controls at least 80 per cent of the global trade in rare earths which, along with other critical minerals such as lithium, copper and cobalt, are a vital part of the defence supply chain. Rare earths are used in everything from weapons guidance systems to improving the durability of electronics used in the field.