KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Jamaica may be able to benefit from newly found deposits of rare-earth elements that are key ingredients for smartphones, computers and numerous other high-tech goods, the Caribbean island’s top mining official said Tuesday.
Science, Technology, Energy & Mining Minister Philip Paulwell said Japanese researchers believe they have found “high concentrations of rare-earth elements” in the country’s red mud, or bauxite residue.
China is now the world’s main supplier of rare-earth elements, which are minerals that play a critical role in making products from basic communication devices to high-tech military weaponry. Worried by that dominance, manufacturers around the globe have been spurring searches for other sources that could be profitably mined.
In a statement to Jamaica’s Parliament, Paulwell said researchers from Japan’s Nippon Light Metal Co. Ltd. believe rare-earth elements can be efficiently extracted in Jamaica, where a once-flourishing bauxite industry has fallen on hard times.
Paulwell touted the discovery as a potentially significant boon for the Caribbean island’s chronically sputtering economy.
“We are at the starting line of an opportunity that has the potential to redefine Jamaica’s economic prospects in a positive way,” he told lawmakers. “… The government of Jamaica perceives the extraction of the rare-earth elements that are present in Jamaica to be an exciting new opportunity to earn much needed foreign exchange and create jobs.”
A pilot program will establish the scope of any potential commercial project on Jamaica, which is about the size of the U.S. state of Connecticut. The environmental and planning agency has already authorized the pilot program but other government agencies still need to examine it.
Nippon Light Metal has agreed to invest $3 million in buildings and equipment for the pilot project while also being responsible for operating costs. Any rare-earth elements produced during this phase will be jointly owned by Jamaica and the Japanese company. Negotiations for commercialization are expected to occur at a later date.
China has built a virtual monopoly on supplying rare-earth elements to the world’s manufacturers, thanks to cheap labor and low environmental standards. It alarmed companies around the world in recent years by reducing exports and at the same time building up its own industries, saying the curbing of rare earth exports was needed for environmental protection.
Last year, the World Trade Organization created a panel to evaluate China’s rare earth exports after the U.S., the European Union and Japan complained about the curtailment of Chinese sales of rare earth minerals.
Rare earths aren’t scarce, but few places exist with enough concentrations to mine profitably, and they are difficult to isolate in a purified form and require advanced technology to extract.
Jamaica had previously tried to get rare earth minerals from the country’s red mud around bauxite mining grounds, but Paulwell said it faced major challenges in attempting to extract minerals from the bauxite tailings.
Last January, Nippon Light Metal approached Jamaica saying it had the capacity to extract rare-earth elements and wanted to evaluate the local red mud. Since then, it has done chemical research and successfully extracted some rare-earth elements, Paulwell said.
Representatives of the company could not immediately be reached for comment.
If the pilot project is a success, Nippon Light Metal hopes to extract 1,500 metric tons of rare-earth oxides annually, Paulwell said.
“It is clear that this resource presents an opportunity Jamaica must pursue, and which must be managed in such a way that Jamaica and Jamaicans benefit significantly,” he said.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
1 of 31
2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
2 of 31
3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
3 of 31
4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
4 of 31
5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
5 of 31
6 of 31
7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
7 of 31
8 of 31
9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
9 of 31
10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
10 of 31
11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
11 of 31
12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
12 of 31
13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
13 of 31
14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
14 of 31
15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
15 of 31
16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
16 of 31
17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
17 of 31
18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
18 of 31
19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
19 of 31
20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
20 of 31
21. Bae #retailtherapy
21 of 31
22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
22 of 31
23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
23 of 31
24. Diggy Simmons
24 of 31
25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
25 of 31
26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
26 of 31
27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
27 of 31
28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
28 of 31
29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
29 of 31
30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
30 of 31
31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
31 of 31