South Korea turns to Japan to reduce rare earth reliance on China

South Korea has diversified its sources of rare earth minerals in order to diminish reliance upon monopoly supplier China, which currently accounts for over 90% of global production.

Global Times reported last month that South Korea’s customs data indicates that rare imports from China had plunged to 54.4% of the total for the period from January to November 2012, as compared to almost eighty percent during the same period in 2011.

Despite South Korea’s fraught relationship with former colonial power Japan, the company raised imports from the archipelago nation to 27.9% of the total, as compared to 7.8% in 2011.

China’s dominance of global rare earth supplies has become an increasingly sensitive issue for leading industrialized economies, as they serve as key ingredients in a slew of hi-tech, strategically vital industries, including renewable energies, consumer electronics and defense.