Japan is joining hands with Vietnam to mine rare earth minerals. The Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said that Japan would also be building a nuclear power plant in the Southeast Asian country.
Rare-earth oxides: Clockwise from top center: praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium.
Tokyo is looking to reduce its dependence on China for rare earth minerals as China limits exports. Mr Kan said that the Vietnamese Prime Minister, Ngueyen Tan Dung feels that the decision to mine rare earth minerals together was a political and strategic one.
It is hoped by Japan that it will secure the mining rights to a mine in Lai Chau which is a north western province of Vietnam. Japan's Sojitz Corp and Toyota Tsusho Corp and a Vietnamese firm are conducting a feasibility study at a deposit in this location.
If the project takes off Japan will be able to meet 10% of its annual demand for rare earth minerals from the mine.
Japan is the third largest nuclear power generator in the world. It would make good sense for Vietnam to develop a nuclear power plant to meet the growing demand for electrical power in the country.
This news comes as Germany and the U.S. also look to sure up their supplies of rare earths from domestic and foreign ventures.