Japan to import rare earths from Kazakhstan: media

TOKYO Thu Nov 1, 2012 10:50pm EDT

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is likely to start importing rare earths from Kazakhstan as early as January as part of its efforts to lower its dependence on China, the Yomiuri newspaper said on Friday, citing unidentified government sources.

The supply of rare earths has been a major concern for Japan after China at one point held back shipments of the vital industrial ingredients in 2010 in the wake of a bilateral dispute.

China, the world's biggest producer of rare earth metals, is also likely to turn an importer of them by as early as 2014 as it boosts consumption in domestic high-tech industries. The group of 17 elements are used in new technologies like smartphones and hybrid cars.

The Yomiuri said Japan plans to import a total of around 1,500 tonnes of rare earths from Kazakhstan a year, accounting for about 7.5 percent of its annual demand.

That includes about 20 tonnes a year of dysprosium, used in motors for electric and hybrid cars, which would account for 3 percent of Japan's demand for the material, it said.

The World Trade Organisation is looking into complaints made by Europe, Japan and the United States over China's curbs on exports of rare earths.

(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori and Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Comments (2)
jo5319 wrote:
“.. accounts for 3% of Japan’s demand for the material…”
That’s just a bit more than a drop in a bucket.

Nov 02, 2012 3:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Free_Pacific wrote:
A good start. It could take another 10 years to build a network and research and invest in alternative techniques. A pity no one saw how poor a choice China was for putting their eggs into earlier. Still, a start is a start and maybe it will fall in place just in time for when we need to keep our economies and factories running, when China initiates it’s blockades. Or more likely, when it tries to seize territory off a neighbour who has bigger teeth than it’s usual victims through military means.

Nov 02, 2012 7:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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