NIGHTWATCH Extract: Japan and Search for Rare Earths (e.g. Lithium)

01 Brazil, 02 China, 03 Economy, 03 India, 08 Wild Cards, 10 Security, Strategy

Japan and the Search for Rare Earth Elements

India: The Japanese trading house Toyota Tsusho Corporation announced that it will begin construction of a rare earth processing plant in India in 2011 in an effort to secure suppliers beyond China, Kyodo reported.

The group company of Toyota Motor Corp. will build the plant in Orison State with plans to launch by the end of 2011. The plant will be constructed in collaboration with Indian Rare Earths Ltd., an affiliate of state-owned Nuclear Power Corp. of India, and with Japan’s Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Japan hopes the plant will produce and export 3,000 to 4,000 tons of rare earth elements each year beginning in 2012.

Bolivia:
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Bolivian President Eva Morales agreed during a meeting in Tokyo to cooperate on the development of commercial lithium extraction in Bolivia. Japan would like to help Bolivia develop its resources, Kan said.

Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akihiro Oat said Japan was prepared to supply technology and infrastructure. Tokyo is also ready to contribute to the development of Bolivia’s human resources, Oat said. Morales, who arrived in Tokyo on the 7th and Kan also confirmed their cooperation on a geothermal power plant project in Bolivia. Japan will extend loans to fund that project, Kyodo reported.

NIGHTWATCH Comment: Japan is taking long term action to reduce its dependence on Chinese supplies of rare earth elements, which China chose to manipulate for political purposes during the Senkaku Islands dispute. Japan is implementing its own version of economic colonialism in India and Bolivia to ensure secure supplies in the long run.

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Phi Beta Iota: While India is an obvious location poised to compete for Central Asian rare earths as well as help accelerate India’s own discoveries, Bolivia is even more interesting because of its closeness to Chile, which is the only country we know of that is immediately capable of achieving infinite free energy.  For Chile (and Brazil) to fail to see the importance of leveraging near-by sources of rare earths is a strategic error of substantial import.

See Also:

What is rare earth and why is it important?