Monday, April 30, 2012 -
Japan plans to jointly establish a rare earth metal extraction venture in Kazakhstan with the aim of reducing China’s dominance over supplies essential to Japanese industries, a Japanese newspaper reported on Sunday.
The two countries aim to secure the deal in early May with the visit of Japan’s Trade Minister Yukio Edano to Kazakhstan. Edano will hold talks with President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Kazakh government officials, the Reuters news agency reported Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun as saying.
Japan wants to procure dysprosium, an indispensable rare earth metal for Japan’s auto and electronics makers.
The Japanese-Kazakh arrangement will pave the way for Kazakh national nuclear company Kazatomprom to extract dysprosium with two Japanese firms: Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation and leading trading company Sumitomo Corporation.
The plant will be built in the northern Kazakh town of Stepnogorsk.
The project, slated to begin within months, will supply Japan with 33 tons of dysprosium by the end of 2012, Reuters reported.
The company will be in full production in 2013 with an annual output of 55 tons, or 10 percent of Japan’s yearly consumption of the material.
Global prices of rare earths have risen since the Beijing government significantly cut restrictions on its exports of the metals.
China extracts more than 95 percent of the world’s rare metals.
The restrictions have sparked a global rush to secure rare earths from non-Chinese suppliers.
Russia and Germany are also seeking to source supplies of rare metals from Kazakhstan.