TOKYO, April 17 (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co said on Tuesday it would start the world’s first mass-production process to extract rare earth metals from used car parts and recycle the expensive materials mainly controlled by China.
Honda has partnered Japan Metals & Chemicals Co to begin extracting rare earth metals this month from nickel-metal hydride batteries collected from used hybrid vehicles at its dealers around the world, the Japanese automaker said.
China produces about 95 percent of global rare earth supplies and has ratcheted up export controls, sending prices soaring.
Honda said the newly developed process enables the extraction of more than 80 percent of rare earth metals in nickel-metal hydride batteries. It plans to also use the process for other parts, feeding the extracted metals back to its products.
Japanese automakers and other heavy users are researching ways to reduce rare earth usage or replace the metals, including with the help of government subsidies. (Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)