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In early January, China announced that it would slash its rare earth export quotas by 11 percent in 2011. The move caused prices to soar and has led Japanese officials to try and find ways to make this not matter very much.

Effective immediately, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will dish out 33.1 billion yen ($404 million U.S. at the current exchange rate) to 110 companies in an effort to slash the nation's dependence on rare earth metal imports from China by one third. Then, the ministry is expected to fork over an additional 9 billion yen ($110 million) to find more companies willing to partake in projects that reduce Japan's rare earth dependency.

The Nikkei, a Japanese news outlet, claims that the nation's spending will fund:
Projects encompassing several categories, such as cutting use of rare-earth metals, boosting recycling, diversifying procurement sources and testing parts made using non-Chinese rare earths. If rare-earth content is reduced or procured from new sources, it may alter the performance of such parts as motors and catalyzers.
Really? Are China's rare earth metals different from those dug up in other regions across the globe?

[Source: Nikkei – sub. req. via Green Car Congress]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 8 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      We have rare earth deposits here in the US as well. Work is already underway to begin reopening those sites.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Right on, Japan. I suppose getting the stuff from the African continent ( Bolivia and friends ) is the lesser evil these days.

      Unfortunately it seems like it would be very expensive to ship the stuff to Japan..
        • 3 Years Ago
        I think you have your continents mixed up.
        • 3 Years Ago
        That's embarassing; Bolivia is in South America actually..
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ah, guys, after the PRC and Bolivia, Australia has the largest reserves of rare earth.

      True, the deposits are a fairly inaccesable region, but at least you don't have to contend with all those Bolivain despardo's along the Zambesi River!
        • 3 Years Ago
        Ah Yes! The Zambesi banditos. ;-)
      • 3 Years Ago
      When did Bolivia move to Africa? That's unusual for a country to pick up and move to a different continent.
      • 3 Years Ago
      That is just the start. According to the referenced Green Car Congress link:
      'The Nikkei reports that the Japanese government and private sector plan to invest ¥110 billion (US$1.3 billion) in efforts to reduce domestic industry’s dependence on rare-earth metal supplies from China by a third. Japan currently imports 90% of the rare-earth metals it uses from China.'
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