Saturday, December 24, 2011

No. 2: Decreasing the dependence on China for rare earths (December 25, 2011)

Showa Denko plans to triple the production of materials for rare earths in Vietnam by next summer. They are alloy materials that contain rare earth, such as dysprosium and neodymium, and iron. They are base materials for high-performance magnets for motors to be mounted on eco-cars. In the future, the company will procure rare earths from mines in Vietnam to produce the materials locally to decrease the dependence on China for rare earths. These decisions are to meet the growing demand for rare earths in the eco-car business.   

The company currently ships scraps from discarded home electronics and those from magnet producers it procures in Japan to Vietnam and collects rare earths using solvent in its Vietnam plant. It is currently 200 tons of rare earths annually on a trial basis in Vietnam. It will increase the annual production capacity of its Vietnam plant to 600 tons with an investment of about 300 billion yen by next spring with upgraded electrolytic furnace and new private electric generator. Showa Denko is a leading producer of rare earth alloys, and it commands a 40% market share in the eco-car market in Japan. It currently produces 5,000-6,000 tons of rare earth alloys domestically, and most materials are imported from China.   

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