Japan, US, EU discuss rare earth supply security

Mar 28, 2012 By ELAINE KURTENBACH , AP Business Writer

(AP) -- Officials from the United States, the European Union and Japan are pledging to work closer together on ways to ensure secure supplies of strategically vital rare earths and other critical materials.

U.S. Energy Secretary told a conference Wednesday in Tokyo that improving processing and recycling of the materials, used in many high-tech products, is vital in the medium term. He said that in the near term, they must be "used as sparingly you can."

China holds about a third of the world's rare earth reserves but supplies about 90 percent of what is consumed. In the past two years it has imposed limits on its exports, citing a need to impose order on an unruly domestic market and to reduce environmental damage.

That has raised protests from countries relying on supplies from China for many industries, including automaking and electronics.

The U.S., Japan and EU recently filed complaints with the over Chinese limits on exports of rare earths.

"It is important the consuming countries and supplying countries ... develop a so that we are not dependent on one source," said Japan's trade minister, Yukio Edano.

Looking to the long term, attention has now shifted toward supply-chain security, said Hans Dietmar Schweistgut, the EU ambassador to Japan.

The officials repeatedly stressed the need to work closely with other producing nations such as Australia and Canada.

Rare earths are used to make goods including hybrid cars, weapons, flat-screen TVs, mobile phones, mercury-vapor lights, and camera lenses.

Japan's need for such materials only increased with last year's earthquake and tsunami and resulting , which has led to the suspension of almost all atomic power production. Such materials are required for and other , Edano said.

"If we cannot access these resources, it will slow the transition to renewables. This is not acceptable," he said.

The U.S. has stepped up research on batteries, building materials and high-performance computers as part of the effort to find substitutes for some rare earths, while Japan and the EU are launching joint research this summer.

Explore further: Alibaba's revenue growth surges in latest quarter

4.5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Japan, US, and EU to meet on rare earths

Mar 21, 2012

Japan said Wednesday it will host the European Union and United States at a meeting on developing alternatives for rare earths as Chinese controls on the key minerals raise fears of a supply squeeze.

China says rare earths not a 'bargaining tool'

Oct 28, 2010

(AP) -- China said Thursday it will not use exports of rare earths, exotic minerals required by high-tech industry, as a diplomatic "bargaining tool" while Washington pressed Beijing to clarify its policy following its de ...

European envoy: China may alter rare earths policy

Jul 14, 2011

(AP) -- A European trade envoy said Chinese officials indicated Thursday that Beijing might change its curbs on exports of rare earths after a World Trade Organization panel rejected similar restrictions on other metals.

China to raise rare earths production this year

Mar 31, 2011

(AP) -- China said Thursday it will increase this year's production quota for rare earths but gave no sign it might reverse plans to cut exports of the exotic metals needed by high-tech industry.

Recommended for you

Alibaba's revenue growth surges in latest quarter

5 minutes ago

Alibaba's quarterly revenue growth is surging again, a development that should help the Chinese e-commerce company sell its shares in what could become the technology industry's most lucrative IPO.

Hackerspaces used to turn ideas turn into reality

11 hours ago

At HeatSync Labs, the tables are littered with computer chips, pens, pads and tools while the room is abuzz with the chatter of would-be inventors hoping to change the world—or just make cool things. They are part of a ...

China Telecom profit rises as mobile data grows

11 hours ago

China Telecom Ltd., one of the country's three main state-owned carriers, said Wednesday its profit rose 11.8 percent in the first half of the year as its Internet and mobile data businesses grew.

Snapchat valued at $10 bln

12 hours ago

US media on Tuesday reported that Snapchat was valued at $10 billion based on funding pumped into the startup by a powerhouse Silicon Valley venture capital firm.

User comments : 0