Kazakhstan Sees $800 Million Investment in Rare-Earth Ventures
Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan's state- owned uranium company, plans to invest about $800 million with Russian and Japanese partners to mine rare-earth metals as supplies from China shrink, Bloomberg reported.
The company and its Russian counterpart Rosatom Corp. may invest as much as $500 million to mine rare earths in Russia and Kazakhstan, Kazatomprom Chief Executive Officer Vladimir Shkolnik said in an interview, without giving a timeframe. In Japan, Kazatomprom has teamed up with Toshiba Corp. (6502) and Sumitomo Corp. (8053) in ventures that may cost a total $300 million, he said.
China, which produces about 95 percent of global rare-earth supply, has been curbing domestic output growth and exports of the metals to conserve resources and protect the environment, prompting users such as Japan to seek alternative sources. Rare earths -- a group of 17 chemically similar metals -- are used in hybrid cars, wind turbines, electronics and weaponry.
Kazatomprom last year set up a venture with Tokyo-based Sumitomo to extract rare earths including molybdenum and rhenium from uranium ore. The venture may need about $200 million in investment, Shkolnik said today in Almaty, Kazakhstan. A $100 million tie-up with Toshiba may produce niobium, rhenium, wolfram, tantalum and beryllium, Kazatomprom said.
Kazakhstan's output of beryllium, used in aerospace equipment and weapons, will rise to 2,000 metric tons in 2014 from 712 tons in 2009, the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies said on its website. The Central Asian nation plans to produce 1,500 tons of the element this year, Shkolnik said.
The country's output of tantalum, used in cell phones and computers, will climb to 297 tons in 2014 from 137 tons in 2009, the ministry said.