Rare Earth Plant for Japan Opens in Kazakhstan


A joint venture between Sumitomo Corp. and Kazakhstan’s state-owned Kazatomprom uranium mining group officially opened a rare earth metal plant Friday in the former Soviet republic.

The Plant, Located In The Northern Town Of Stepnogorsk, Will Extract Rare Earth Minerals From Surplus Soil Generated By Kazakhstan’s Uranium Mines. It Will Begin Full-fledged Production By Year’s End Of Dysprosium, An Essential Metal For High-performance Motors Used In The Manufacture Of Hybrid And Electric Vehicles.

The Facility Will Become Japan’s First Supplier Of Dysprosium Outside China, And Is Scheduled To Commence Exports To Japanese Businesses Early Next Year. The Joint Venture Aims To Eventually Increase Its Dysprosium Output To 60 Tons A Year From The Current 20 Tons — Enough To Cover About 10 Percent Of Demand In Japan.

After Processing Surplus Soil, The Plant Will Ship Heavier Metals Such As Dysprosium To Japan And Lighter Ones To Europe. Its Overall Annual Production Capacity Is Estimated At 1,500 Tons. with Japan’s Ties With China — The World’s Biggest Supplier Of Rare Earth Elements — At Their Lowest Point In Years Due To The Senkaku Islands Dispute, Kazakhstan Is Drawing Attention As An Alternative Supplier Among Japanese Manufacturers Due To Its Plentiful Mineral Deposits, Industry Sources Said.

Friday’s Inauguration Ceremony Was Attended By Yosuke Kondo, A Vice Minister Of Economy, Trade And Industry, And Other Japanese Representatives, As Well As High-ranking Officials From Kazakhstan’s Central And Regional Governments.