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Is South Korea being Realistic on Reducing Chinese Rare Earth Imports Dependence

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South Korea has said that it would reduce its dependence on China for rare earth minerals.The Country has reduced imports of Rare Earth Minerals from 7398 tons in 2005 to 2655 tons in 2009.Note most of the reduction came after South Korean Chaebols Samsung and LG shifted their production from CRTs to LCD and Plasma Display Panels.The country now imports 65% of its REE requirements from China and most of the rest from Japan.The country plans to increase cooperation with traditional ally USA and Japan to meet future demand for these commodities.However I have my doubt whether South Korea can reduce its dependence.South Korea has embarked on a major Green Stimulus which is the biggest as a percentage amongst Developed Countries.This is going to mean increased demand for rare earth minerals which are essential for Magnets in Wind Turbines and Batteries and Catalytic Converters for Electric Vehicles.Japan is already planning huge investments into developing alternate supply sources,perhaps South Korea needs to show that urgency as well

Note Korean Companies like Samsung,Hyundai,LG,Hanwha,POSCO,SK Energy have committed themselves to Huge Green Investment plans.Korean Shipbuilders are betting their future on Wind Energy while the biggest Korean Company Samsung considers Green Growth essential to its survival.Hyundai recently introduced a Hybrid Vehicle and plans many more as the Korean Government has given huge subsidies for Green Car  Infrastructure and Vehicles.All these massive investment plans will need huge amounts of Rare Earth Minerals.South Korea like Japan needs to urgently look for sources of these minerals in order to secure its Green Future.

S. Korea Cuts China Rare-Earth Supply as Imports Drop – Reuters

South Korea plans to reduce its dependency on Chinese supplies of rare earths after cutting overall imports of the materials used in hybrid cars and wind turbines by almost two-thirds since 2005.

The government expects China to maintain an export cap on rare earths and will increase stockpiles to meet higher demand, said Kim Sang Woo, a deputy director at the Mineral Resources Division of the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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