U.S. to probe Hitachi Metal complaint

Bloomberg

Hitachi Metals Ltd.’s complaint seeking to block U.S. imports of competitors’ rare earth magnets used in electronics, golf ball markers and power tools will be investigated by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The commission said Tuesday it started a probe into the case filed Aug. 17 by the maker of specialty-metal products against more than two dozen companies. Notice of the decision was posted on the agency’s website.

The dispute is over patented inventions related to the manufacture of sintered rare earth magnets, which are light and powerful compounds used in batteries, magnets and computer hard drives. Hitachi Metals is seeking to block products that are using rare earth metals from China, where 95 percent of all such materials are mined and processed.

Hitachi Metals, based in Tokyo, said in the complaint it has an agreement to make the magnets with Molycorp Inc., the owner of the only rare earth mine in the U.S., and plans to begin production in 2013.