Japan, Mongolia OK Joint Rare Earths Development

October 2, 2010 — Tokyo (Source: Nikkei) — Prime Minister Naoto Kan agreed with his Mongolian counterpart Saturday evening that Japan and Mongolia should cooperate to prospect for and mine industrial metals, including rare earth minerals, in that country.

The agreement came during a meeting between Kan and Mongolian Prime Minister Sukhbaataryn Batbold. Kan was joined by a number of Japanese business leaders, including the presidents of six general trading companies.

Under the deal, Japan will help Mongolia look for rare earths and other metals. In return for technological cooperation, Japan will receive priority in deliveries of the metals produced. Rare earths are essential to the production of many high-tech devices.

“Development of rare earth and other mines in resource-rich Mongolia will benefit both countries,” Kan said in a speech at the meeting. Batbold urged Japanese firms to actively invest in Mongolia.

The talks are part of Japan’s efforts to diversify its sources of rare earth imports, after China’s curbed exports to Japan during a diplomatic spat.

The business leaders who attended the Oct. 2 meeting included executives from Mitsubishi Corp. (8058), Mitsui & Co. (8031), Sumitomo Corp. (8053), Itochu Corp. (8001) and Toshiba Corp. (6502). The prime ministers initially met in New York on Sept. 24.