Japan does not admit defeat in the global race for rare earths

Japan's identification of a massive rare earth deposit is a testament to the efforts of the archipelago, the world's second largest consumer of these strategic minerals, to reduce its dependence on China against the backdrop of growing demand and rising prices

Japanese scientists unveiled this week that deposits located at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) could contain more than 16 million tonnes of rare earths, which, according to them, cover several centuries of global needs.

Rare earths are a group of 17 metallic elements that have become essential in the manufacture of high-tech products, such as wind turbines, smartphones, and electric motors.

Japan currently relies heavily on China, which concentrates 90% of the production (about 150,000 tons in 2016) and therefore controls this ultra-strategic market.

In 2011, the Asian giant caused a momentary surge in prices and a real crisis on the world market by applying export quotas.

If these quotas no longer exist, the market tightened again last year and prices jumped, although much less than in 2011. Because on one side China has limited production and struggled against illegal mines, and on the other hand, announcements have multiplied in favor of electric vehicles and the development of renewable energies, which consume a lot of rare earths.

– 'Actor of weight' –

Faced with this situation, many countries are trying to emancipate themselves from Chinese domination. Outside China, 38 projects are in various stages of development, according to an assessment by the specialized firm Adamas Intelligence

The Japanese archipelago is no exception, notably by investing in deposits in the world. The public body dedicated to raw materials Jogmec and the Sojitz group, for example, financed the Australian mining group Lynas, the largest non-Chinese producer, in exchange for part of its production.

The country is also developing the recycling of products containing rare earths to recover precious minerals. "The Japanese are already a major player in this market and seek in many ways to overcome any dependence on Chinese supplies," confirms AFP GaƩtan Lefebvre, expert at the French Bureau of Geological and Mining Research (BRGM

Japan "must prepare for the possibility that prices will rise again", which could then make offshore oil fields competitive, and "contribute to Japan's security of supply", explains AFP Yutaro Takaya, researcher at Waseda University, and contributor to the study unveiled this week

The estimate of these resources is indeed "impressive", observes Ryan Castilloux, director of the cabinet Adamas Intelligence

Scientists have estimated that the present amount of dysprosium, an element used for example in permanent magnets, accounted for 730 years of world consumption, while yttriu reserves m, entering the manufacture of lasers, were likely to meet the needs of the industry for 780 years.

– The Challenge of Extraction –

But the Japanese field, although promising, is still far from being exploitable, not to mention environmental issues, experts say.

"It will take several years to determine whether an exploitation is feasible, "notes M. Castilloux.

" Nothing says that the entire deposit can be economically extracted "and" competitively compared to the onshore deposits ", in particular Chinese, judge Mark Hannington, geologist at the Geomar (Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research) in Kiel, Germany

Currently, there is no cost-effective technique for exploiting this type of deposit, located at such great depths (more than 5,000 meters). "Only pilot projects have been carried out," he says.

And given the low concentration of rare earths, less than 1% of submarine sludge, "that means that to recover 1,000 tons of rare earth oxide, one million tonnes of sludge would have to be treated, "explains Mr. Castilloux.

" There are millions and millions of tonnes of rare earths in other previously identified terrestrial deposits that I believe are more attractive options, "he says.

" Work must continue to develop ways to bring the sludge back to the surface, "says Takaya. The researchers hope to achieve this "in five years", according to him, even if he admits that "the cost will be a challenge."

Last year, the Institute of Geological Studies of the United States ( USGS) estimated the world's rare earth reserves at 120 million tonnes, including 44 million in China, 22 million in Brazil, and 18 million in Russia.

Canada: Defeat of Opponents of a Controversial Pipeline in the West

The Canadian province of British Columbia, on the Pacific coast, promised Monday to continue its legal fight against the expansion of a controversial oil pipeline after a federal court refused to rule on this thorny case. 19659002] Local Authorities Oppose Canadian Federal Government's Decision to Allow US Company Kinder Morgan to Upgrade Trans Mountain Oil Pipeline from Alberta's Oil Sands to 300 Million Barrels Per Day the suburbs of Vancouver

 March of Aboriginal Peoples and opponents of the Trans Mountain Pipeline of the American Kinder Morgan Company in Burnaby in the Canadian Province of British Columbia, March 10, 2018 (AFP / Archives - Jason Redmond )

March of Aboriginal Peoples and Opponents of the Trans Mountain Pipeline of the American Kinder Morgan Company in Burnaby in the Canadian Province of British Columbia , March 10, 2018 (AFP / Archives – Jason Redmond)

Elected in the summer of 2017, notably on the promise to fight the development of fossil fuels, the Social Democratic Government of British Columbia challenged this authorization with the Federal Court of Appeal. But this court refused Friday to seize the file.

"We are very disappointed that the Federal Court of Appeal has rejected our request for appeal," told AFP George Heyman, Minister of the Environment and British Columbia's Climate Change.

"Our government will continue its legal struggle against this pointless project," he said.

Another legal remedy, initiated by Aboriginal people, is currently between Supreme Court of the Province.

 Opposition to Trans Mountain Pipeline of Kinder Morgan US Company in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, March 10, 2018 (AFP / Archives - Jason Redmond)

Opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline of the American company Kinder Morgan in Burnaby, British Columbia (Canada), March 10, 2018 (AFP / Archives – Jason Redmond)

Opponents of the pipeline Kinder Morgan point the risks of oil spill, with the increased maritime traffic, and their impact on threatened populations of marine mammals.

They also believe that by increasing the volume of oil sent to the US or Asian markets, Justin Trudeau's federal government is violating its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which led to the warming of planet.

US Secretary of State Warns Focus Do not Switch from Defeat ISIS

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned on Tuesday about the need to remain focused on the ISIS defeat forever, although most militants have been removed from areas once controlled in Iraq and Syria.

Tillerson spoke at a conference in Kuwait for members of the coalition formed by America by the end of 2014, with a multi-direction strategy to deal with ISIS, including through US-led air strikes and efforts to cut funding for the group and the flow of foreign fighters. Tillerson said that ISIS still poses a serious threat to stability in the region, in coalition member countries and elsewhere in the world.

He said the militants no longer controlled 98 percent of the territory they seized at its peak, in 2014, as they declared the formation of the Caliphate in Iraq and Syria, but they now pose a different threat.

In Iraq and Syria, ISIS seeks to turn into insurrection, and in other places such as Afghanistan, Philippines, Libya, West Africa, ISIS seeks to shape safe havens, he continued.

Tillerson announces $ 200 million in new aid to liberate parts of Syria. Also Tuesday, he is scheduled to take part in a conference of donors aimed at rebuilding the regions of Iraq.

Ahead of the meeting, senior State Department officials said attention should be on target, while explaining the need to focus on defeating ISIS. He highlighted the recent conflict in the region of Afrin, northern Syria, between Turkish forces and Syrian-backed Democratic Forces as a diversion of the target.

Read also: Turkey Renames Road in front of US Embassy after the Turkish Offensive in Syria

The official, and Tillerson in their comments on Tuesday (13/2), are aware of Turkey's concerns about Kurdish militants who are perceived as a threat.

Tillerson is on his fifth countries in the region, beginning in Egypt and covering stops in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. [uh]

US to Keep Cooperation with Russia to Defeat ISIS in Syria

US President's special envoy to the Global Coalition Defeating ISIS, Brett McGurk said Thursday that America wants to complete the war in Syria through a constitutional process that will later be followed by UN-supervised elections.

will also continue to be in various parts of Syria to ensure ISIS can not return, and so we can help stabilization efforts that will enable people to return to their homes, "McGurk said.

ISIS has lost 98 percent of the area it controls in Syria and therefore America is trying to reduce the fighting, but will "remain pragmatic and firm in dealing with Russia," McGurk added.

The American official quoted a UN report saying 1000 Syrian refugees had resumed their refugees every month. However, McGurk said again, "it is not time for us to party."

He also asserted that ISIS had not been completely destroyed in Syria and much work still had to be done. [ii]