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Japan and Namibia seal agreement on rare earth minerals exploration

Aerial view on the mining development, quarry in Namib desert, Namibia

Japan has taken another significant step to secure its supply of critical minerals for electric vehicle battery manufacturing. This week, Tokyo strengthened its ties with Windhoek, with both nations signing a pact to jointly explore rare earth minerals in Namibia.

The Japan Organization for Metals and Energy Security (JOGMEC) has been chosen to collaborate on this exploration mission alongside Namibia’s state-owned mining company, Epangelo. The announcement was made during the signing ceremony held in Windhoek.

The details surrounding the scope and terms of the agreement remain undisclosed as of now. However, this move follows a broader strategic framework Japan has been deploying in its quest to develop a robust supply chain for essential battery minerals, including cobalt.

Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan’s Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, is spearheading this initiative. As part of his African tour, Nishimura is visiting five nations rich in rare earth deposits. These nations include Namibia, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mission’s primary objective is to establish an African supply chain of critical minerals, thereby reducing Japan’s reliance on China.

China’s stronghold on battery mineral supplies has been a cause of concern for many advanced economies. Tokyo’s move to collaborate with African nations underscores its commitment to diversifying sources and ensuring a steady flow of these critical resources.

It is not Japan’s maiden venture in Namibia. JOGMEC is already in a partnership with Namibia Critical Metals Inc. (NMI.V) to harness the potential of the Lofdal deposit situated in north-western Namibia. This site has already gained attention for its rich yttrium reserves. Beyond this, the Lofdal deposit also boasts potential reserves of dysprosium and terbium, two of the rarest and most valuable heavy rare earth elements. These minerals are vital for the production of permanent magnets found in electric car batteries and wind turbines.

This collaboration further consolidates Namibia’s position in the global rare earth minerals market. Last year, the country inked a deal to supply the European Union with these essential minerals.

The synergy between Japan and Namibia could be a game-changer in the electric vehicle and renewable energy sectors. With the global demand for electric vehicles on the rise, securing a reliable supply chain is crucial for nations looking to make the transition to cleaner energy alternatives.

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