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.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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