Japan commences rare earth extraction in the Caribbean

Nippon Light Metals has commenced the extraction of rare earth minerals found in red bauxite mud in Jamaica's Hope Gardens, St. Andrew.

Carribean360 reports a ceremony to mark the commencement of the three pilot extraction project was held on Monday, in which Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller took part.

Japanese aluminum miner Nippon Light Metals first uncovered rare earth minerals in the bauxite residue of the Caribbean nation last year, and is conducting the three month pilot project at a cost of USD$3 million.

Nippon Light Metals had previously expressed its optimism about the economic viability of the extraction of the rare earth metals, which are highly coveted by OECD economies because of their essential role in a broad range of hi-tech devices.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said at the project's opening ceremony that the red mud rare earth project could significantly boost Jamaica's export earnings as well as draw greater investment to the small Caribbean nation.

"The project represents the kind of industrial diversification that the country needs, if it is to realize its economic potential and improve the living standards of the people," the Prime Minister said.

According to Phillip Paulwell, Jamaica's Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Nippon Light Metals hopes to extract around 1,500 metric tonnes of rare earth metals per annum should the project prove successful.