Japan to pour investment into non-China rare-earth projects – by Ryosuke Hanafusa (Nikkei Asian Review – February 15, 2020)


TOKYO — The Japanese government will cooperate with the U.S. and Australia on investing in processing facilities for rare-earth metals, looking to ease reliance on imports from China.

Rare earths are essential to such high-tech machinery as motors for electric vehicles. But Japan imports 58% of its supply from China, leaving it vulnerable to manipulation by Beijing. Tokyo plans to bring the Chinese share down to 50% or less by 2025.

Tokyo is discussing a cooperation deal with the U.S. and Australia. Smelting facilities under construction in the U.S. state of Texas that will be operated by Australian rare-earths miner Lynas are a probable investment target.

That site is scheduled to come online in the middle of the decade. Other investment targets will be considered, primarily in the U.S. and Australia.

Japan will conduct the financing through a government-owned resource investment company: the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp., or Jogmec. Legislation will be revised to allow it to take stakes in rare-earths smelting projects.

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