Sunday, October 30, 2011

Japan, India to jointly develop rare earths

Rare earth ore, shown with a United States penny for size comparison

Japan and India agreed Saturday to promote at the private level joint development of rare earths, which are indispensable for automobiles and information technology products.

Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and Indian Foreign Minister Shri S.M. Krishna also agreed to step up negotiations toward conclusion of an India-Japan nuclear agreement during a meeting at the Foreign Ministry's Iikura Guest House in Minato Ward, Tokyo, according to officials.

The bilateral agreement over rare earths joint development comes against the backdrop of an attempt to offset the predominance of China in the field, observers said.

Rare earth element
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

These rare-earth oxides are used as tracers to determine which parts of a drainage basin are eroding. Clockwise from top center: praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium.[1]

As defined by IUPAC, rare earth elements or rare earth metals are a set of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table, specifically the fifteen lanthanides plus scandium and yttrium.[2] Scandium and yttrium are considered rare earth elements since they tend to occur in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides and exhibit similar chemical properties.

Despite their name, rare earth elements (with the exception of the radioactive promethium) are relatively plentiful in the Earth's crust, with cerium being the 25th most abundant element at 68 parts per million (similar to copper). However, because of their geochemical properties, rare earth elements are typically dispersed and not often found in concentrated and economically exploitable forms. The few economically exploitable deposits are known as rare earth minerals.[3] It was the very scarcity of these minerals (previously called "earths") that led to the term "rare earth". The first such mineral discovered was gadolinite, a compound of cerium, yttrium, iron, silicon and other elements. This mineral was extracted from a mine in the village of Ytterby in Sweden; many of the rare earth elements bear names derived from this location.

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