Rare earths: Japan reduces dependence on China

Rare earths being mined in Baotou, in China's Inner Mongolia (photo: dpa)
Rare earths being mined in Baotou, in China's Inner Mongolia (photo: dpa)

Japan’s high-tech industry is highly dependent on China for rare earths. The government, industry and commercial firms are working in close collaboration to change this, taking two different approaches: saving and finding new sources of supply. First results are clear - according to customs statistics, imports of rare earths declined between 2010 and 2011, from 28,600 tonnes to 22,500 – around 21 per cent.

JAPAN’S dependence on imported raw materials has been a key issue in its international relations since the beginning of industrialisation.

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Oil, gas, coal, and food are brought in from a variety of countries which are in competit...

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