Japan diversifying rare earth supply


Countries other than China are expected to provide up to half of Japan’s rare earth mineral by the second half of next year at the soonest, industry minister Yukio Edano said Monday.

Japan relied on China for about 90 percent of its supply in 2011 but wants to reduce this heavy dependence because there are risks Beijing will restrict exports due to diplomatic problems.

According to an official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan is expected to increase imports of rare earths from Australia, India and Kazakhstan from next year and beyond.

Japan’s demand for rare earth minerals, vital for producing a range of high-tech products, is between around 20,000 tons and 30,000 tons a year.

“We want to further diversify sources of supply and secure our interests,” Edano told a Diet committee.