Dwarfed by Chinese production today, it may be hard to imagine that India was once the world’s leading Rare Earths producer. The country is now trying to gain foot hold in a market it dominated in the 1950s, and is hoping to benefit from a territorial dispute in the East China Sea.
In the wake of mounting tensions between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, India, which had previously agreed to supply Japan with Rare Earths, has sought to intensify cooperation with Japan in this field. As Metal Miner reports, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to ink an agreement kicking off joint REE exploration in India during a forthcoming trip to Tokyo later this year.
Says MetalMiner contributor Sohrab Darabshaw:
“India is trying its best now to ensure that China’s loss, at least on Japan’s front, will be its gain. Also, what is fuelling India’s interests is that an alignment over REE could well mean putting up a formidable geo-strategic wall to halt increasing Chinese assertiveness in the region on other fronts like territory and trade and commerce.”
While the geopolitical dimension of securing supplies of critical metals and minerals is not lost on the above-referenced players, the realization that resource policy does not occur in a vacuum has yet to sink in in Washington, D.C.. Hopefully, once the dust from this Presidential election cycle settles, U.S. policy makers will realize that it’s time to formulate a comprehensive mineral resource strategy.