American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • New year, new players in the REE game?

    In an ongoing reaction to China’s restrictive mineral policies, countries are expanding their efforts to look for alternative supplies of sought-after commodities. Case in point is Japan, which in recent months has inked cooperative agreements with a number of other nations including India and Vietnam. Its most recent effort is focused on what is better known as a primary vacation destination for some – Jamaica.

    According to the Associated Press, a team of Japanese researchers has found what they consider highly viable concentrations of Rare Earth Elements in Jamaica’s red mud. Nippon Light Metal Company Limited, the Tokyp-based aluminum company to commission the research, has “put up US $3 million for a pilot project that could result in Jamaica earning billions in foreign exchange.”

    As the Jamaica Observer reports, the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) has given “tentative support” to the pilot project, which was announced by Jamaica’s government last week.

    As the global race for resources heats up and we’re seeing new players entering the stage, it is encouraging to see at least parts of the United States government take steps towards addressing our mineral resource supply challenges, as the Department of Energy with the launch of its new critical materials research hub. With the second term of the Obama Administration beginning this week, we’ll hopefully see a more forceful and coherent approach to this issue, which has yet to receive the attention it deserves.

  • Japan continues to diversify its REE suppliers with imports from Kazakhstan

    Against the backdrop of mounting tensions in the territorial dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, Japan has recently been stepping up its efforts to diversify the sources of its mineral resource supply.

    Japan-based Sumitomo Corporation will import Rare Earths from Kazakhstan, according to the website Finance GreenWatch. With the backing of the Japanese government, which will also provide financial support, the company has formed a joint venture called Summit Atom Rare Earth Company LLP (SARECO) with Kazakhstan’s National Atomic Company Kazatoprom. Established in May 2010, the joint venture completed construction and opened its first factory earlier this month.

    Sources expect that roughly 1,500 tons of REEs will enter Japan per year, which accounts for 7.5 percent of annual demand, which currently is about 20,000 tons.

    Heavily dependent on especially heavy REEs from China, the Japanese government started negotiations including Australia and India, after China temporarily suspended exports to the country in 2010. The flare-up of territorial tensions in the East China Sea has provided new impetus for Japan to “lessen the diplomatic pressure China is able to exert due to its possession of natural resources.”

    As the East China Sea, Africa, the Arctic, and other parts of the world increasingly turn into geopolitical battlefields of the global resource wars, the big question is: What (if any) is the United States’ mineral resource strategy? Hopefully the issue will be addressed and resolved after the dust of the Presidential elections has settled – our manufacturing base depends on it.

  • Interview: Putting the Chinese-Japanese island dispute into perspective

    In a three-part interview series with Metal Miner, American Resources principal Daniel McGroarty discusses resource nationalism, the role of China in global resource wars and lessons for the United States’ mineral resource strategy against the backdrop of the East China Sea territorial dispute between China and Japan over a tiny group of islands, with outsized [...]
  • ARPN Expert View: “East China Sea one front in larger resource wars”

    Two years after China’s Rare Earths embargo on Japan and subsequent supply shortages put the until-then largely obscure group of critical minerals on the map, tensions between the two countries are reaching new heights, with the specter of war looming. At the heart of the current tensions lies a territorial “tug-of-war” over five tiny – [...]
  • Chinese-Japanese tensions to rise again over Rare Earths

    China’s suspension of Rare Earth shipments to Japan in the fall of 2010 kicked off a firestorm and has largely contributed to the extensive media coverage Rare Earth supply issues have received in recent months. While shipments were since resumed, reports that Japan is diversifying its supply sources have surfaced from time to time. But [...]
  • Foreign Manufacturers Still Flock to China

    Japanese electronics maker Panasonic has built a new consumer Lithium-ion factory in Suzhou, China. While the plant is located on the premises already owned by Panasonic, the new facility is a manifestation of an ongoing trend of foreign manufacturers moving their production sites into China in order to mitigate reduced access to and increased costs [...]
  • Japan, Kazakhstan to ‘jointly develop rare earths’

    Back in March, the U.S., Europe and Japan issued a WTO complaint against China’s mineral export policies. The complaint raised awareness of global resource needs, but accomplished little else. Rather than waiting for further action, as the U.S. seems content to do, Japan has taken matters into its own hands. The Japanese have partnered with [...]
  • Critical metals take center stage in border dispute: The Kuril Islands and Rhenium

    According to a recent article in the Russian daily Pravda, Russia finds itself locked in a territorial dispute that is becoming increasingly acute. The conflict over the group of four islands, which Russia calls the “Southern Kurils” and Japan calls the “Northern Territories, is the reason why Japan and Russia never signed a peace treaty [...]
  • Japan’s rare earth recycling strategy

    While the United States pours money into foreign mineral imports, other countries are recognizing the value of self-sufficiency: Japan has drafted a bill requiring consumers to recycle used electronics containing rare earth and critical metals. The federally-sponsored move illustrates the priority Japanese officials are giving to mineral policy, a focus that contrasts sharply with the [...]
  • Japan and India agree on joint development of rare earths

    As China continues its geopolitical rare earths power play, Japan and India are the latest countries to partner in an attempt to offset China’s near total supply monopoly.  According to the Asia News Network, the foreign ministers of the two countries agreed in late October to promote the joint development of the critical minerals at [...]