FACTBOX-Japan budgets $650 mln for rare earths, resources

Jan 5 (Reuters) - Japan’s government has set aside 53.3 billion yen ($650 million) in its budget for the financial year starting in April to secure supplies of rare earth minerals and other promising but rare natural resources.

Resource-poor Japan is stepping up its efforts to secure such resources from abroad and at home, in particular after China’s de facto ban on exports of rare earths last year highlighted their importance to Japan.

Trade Minister Akihiro Ohata said on Wednesday he wants to visit China as early as this month to talk to officials there to secure enough rare earths, which are vital for making a range of high-tech goods. [ID:nTOE70402F] China, the world’s biggest supplier of rare earths, has cut export quotas for the first half of 2011, threatening a shortage of them. [ID:nRAREEARTH]

Below is a list of spending by the Japanese government to secure rare earths and other rare natural resources in the year starting on April 1 (in billion yen): [ID:nTOE6BN053]

- Development of rare earth minerals abroad 19.7

- Recycling and developing alternative technology 1.6

- Developing offshore oil and gas in Japan 16.3

- Pre-feasibility study on methane hydrate deposits 8.9

- Study on cobalt rich crust*, other undersea reserves 6.8 *Cobalt rich crusts are undersea mineral deposits that contain manganese, cobalt, nickel and platinum, as well as rare earths such as neodymium and dysprosium. ($1=82.11 Yen) (Reporting by Risa Maeda; Editing by Michael Watson)