Japan to Subsidize Underwater Rare Earth Venture
December 20, 2012
Tokyo’s new governor, Naoki Inose, announced the city would subsidize companies with a project to mine rare earth elements from the seabed off Minami-Torishima Island, to the southeast of Tokyo.
The Asahi Shimbum reports that the measure aims to help local businesses and the national industry by reducing Japan’s dependence on China as a leading source of rare earths imports.
Experts estimate the Minami-Torishima island seabed holds rare earth deposits equivalent to more than 200 times what Japan needs a year. But the extraction of those resources from the sea floor requires technology and funding.
Recently Japan has been turning to Central Asia for supplies of rare earth minerals, with Sumitomo Corp opening a rare earth plant in conjunction with state-owned Kazakh company Kazatomprom last November.