Nov 19, 2012 - The Japanese and Indian governments on Friday inked a memorandum of understanding to support joint rare earth minerals production, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, citing Tokyo's energy agency.
Rare earth metals are a group of 17 elements whose electrical and chemical properties enhance the operation of special magnets and batteries used in high-technology equipment including wind turbines, solar panels and electrical vehicles.
Under the agreement, the two governments will back a joint project between Toyota Tsusho Corp (TYO:8015), the Japanese trading group, and an Indian state-run firm. Citing news agency Jiji Press, AFP said that Japan was projected to start importing from India 4,100 tonnes of rare earths per year, or over 10% of its demand, from next spring.
The move is expected to help lower Japan's dependence on China, which is responsible for most of the world's rare earths supply. Earlier this month, Japanese group Sumitomo Corp (TYO:8053) said its joint venture with Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan's national atomic company, had opened a rare earths plant in Kazakhstan.