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Japan to survey Pacific seabed for rare earths


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Molycorp in the US can supply all of Japan's rare earth needs, so that you're no longer dependent on China. Stop buying from your enemy and buy from your friends. Molycorp has all that you need.

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Two words that don't belong in the same sentence concerning china ...environment and protection. What's the visibility rating today in china ??

Only reason they "clamped" down is to control the market. Just another tool of manipulation China is using , good move Japan....stop being dependent on china for anything.

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Keeping our fingers crossed.

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I expect China Ministry of Foreign Affairs to tell us Pacific seabed belongs to China since ancient times and that Japan must stop the survey.

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Many posters do not realize that rare earth is not really rare. It is extremely dirty for processing. Not many nations want to make rare earth in their own soil because it is the enviromental nightmare. If Japan will make the processing of rare earth by it self, Japan will become polluted, poisonous and unliveable nation.


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@Nathaw is spot on. Before China really go involved in it the US and Australia where the biggest producers. But China can produce them for much less because they don't have the same levels of environmental protection to adhere to.

Molycorp has production issues, and they are holding back on additional investment in processing facilities until market conditions improve and they get a handle on their current upgrades and yields. Most of these companies are in a tough spot because China can easily mess with the market by creating artificial scarcity and then flood the market when other try to move in.

On the other hand the US just $120M into a rare earth research incubator because they see it as a strategic resource. I believe the Aussies are doing the same thing. Japan would be wise to throw their lot in with a couple Western countries to have various supplies to work with.

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Geographically, Japan is not a rich natural resources country. It's hard for Japan for always dependent with another country since before and after WWII. Japan has a strong sense for not wanting to dependent to another countries at any cost even it means war.

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Japan has a strong sense for not wanting to dependent to another countries at any cost even it means war.

As Nathaw posted Rare Earth is not rare minerals. It can be processed in anywhere. The reason of supply problem is not many nations want to get dirty, polluted and rivers are flooding with toxic chemical and radio active waste. If Japan did not mind the dust and toxic, they have made the processing plants before. Japanese are very fond of cleanness . It is a problem of shortage of rare earth supply.

Japan does not need to go for rare earth for war. It does not like middle east oil. China controls 90% of supply because they are willing to get dirty and polluted. Japan is not!

Besides that electronic manufacturers of Japan have been losing billions in 2012. Whether they can make money if they got more rare earth supply is doubtful.

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 lachanceJan. 11, 2013 - 08:15AM JST > Molycorp in the US can supply all of Japan's rare earth needs, so that you're no longer dependent on China. Stop buying from your enemy and buy from your friends. Molycorp has all that you need.

The U.S. is only Japan's friend when it suits the U.S.'s agenda and makes the U.S. money. Japan is IN this situation because the U.S. has refused to intervene while Chinese ships (including some military ships!) invade Japan's territory. Why? Because it pushes more Japanese trade in the U.S.'s direction and decreases trade with the U.S.'s biggest competitor (China). The U.S. is also making money selling Japan more arms because of the heightened tensions that they've refused to defuse.

Japan should just sit down with China and say, "Look, this spat over the Senkakus is just serving the U.S.'s interests and hurting both of our economies. Let's unite in giving the U.S. the finger by agreeing to disagree over the Senkakus and get back to normal trade.". That would sort out the rare earth dilemma in short order.

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Extraction of Rare Earth Elements (REE) is a difficult problem because, as has been pointed out, the processing of the ore really is a messy process with toxic and radioactive byproducts (REE ores tend to be high in uranium and especially thorium). It can be done in a more environmentally friendly way (recovering the byproducts), but this drives up cost. And what do you do with all of that uranium and thorium? Sell to nuclear power plants? Probably not...

China has large amounts of known reserves, little environmental regulation, and the ability to manipulate prices in a way that it's simply not feasible for competitors to enter the market, especially those who have some interest in mining in an environmentally responsible way.

And to add to this, REE are used in many "greeen energy" applications like solar panels, photosynthetic catalysts, and rechargeable batteries (e.g. for hybrid cars). There's active research in doing many of these things without REE, but limiting REE supply undoubtedly means more reliance on fossil fuels, at least in the short term. In the energy world, nothing really is free...

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@Athletes About who wants or not to get dirty and polluted is debate able. Japan is a small island country. Therefore they should think twice for using a rare earth. While China is vast big land.

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Japanese major export items are electronic goods, cars, turbines and Machinary.China exports are clothes, foot ware and household items.Japan needs rare earth eight times more than China. When China was poor, they sacrificed their environment and health for economy. It is no longer anymore.It is fair to say that if Japan want to get stable supply, it has to make processing plant earlier. Rare earth is not rare minerals. It is chemically refined magmatic friendly plastic. It can be made in Japan too.

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