Japan, Australia moving towards rare earths deal


TOKYO–Japan moved a step further away from its dependence on China for rare earth materials Wednesday after trading house Sojitz said it had formed a strategic alliance with an Australian mining firm.

Sojitz and Australia’s Lynas are in talks to expand Japan’s supply through a 10-year deal that would see the Japanese firm procure more than 9,000 tons of rare earths per year.

A trade ministry official said this would satisfy more than 30 percent of Japanese demand if the deal went ahead.

Rare earth minerals are used in everything from guided missiles to flat screen televisions and cars, and Japan’s high-tech industry is the world’s largest user.