Japanese Firms Look to India for Rare Earths


"The REEs will be produced from uranium and thorium extraction byproducts."

Japanese trading houses are scrambling to secure new sources of rare earths after shipments from dominant producer China stalled after it cut export quotas.

Toyota Tsusho Corp., a Toyota Motor Corp. group company, said on Wednesday it would build a rare-earth processing plant in India and start shipping 3,0004,000 tons a year of the minerals to Japan in 2012.

The plant, to be built in Orissa by the end of 2011, will manufacture rare earths from byproducts of the process of extracting uranium and thorium fuel from monazite minerals at Indian Rare Earth Ltd. The firm is a unit of the Nuclear Power Corp. of India.

Japan's Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. will provide technical support. Toyota Tsusho's planned imports include cerium, neodymium and lanthanum, a company spokesman said.

Japan's third biggest trading company, Sumitomo Corp., said this week it was in talks with Molycorp of the United States on a rare earth-supply deal.

Sojitz Corp., the number six trader, last month reached a deal with Australian miner Lynas Corp. to secure more than 9,000 tons of rare earths per year from early 2013.

As a vital element for making auto parts and high-tech products, rare earth elements represent the cartel of Japan's economy.

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