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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.