The "Critical Materials and Minerals Meeting" was held online from December 6 to 8, with policy makers from Japan, the U.S., the EU, Australia, and Canada discussing trends in "critical materials," which can have a significant impact on a country's industry and society if supplies are disrupted.


The meeting began in 2010 when China's Ministry of Commerce announced that it would drastically cut overseas exports of rare earths as part of its efforts to enclose resources, and the meeting was behind the WTO lawsuit filed by Japan, the United States, and the European Union in March of the following year against China's rare earth export restrictions, which was won in 2014.The meetings are held once a year on average, and have recently been used as a forum for information exchange between policy makers from participating countries and experts in various fields.


According to a representative from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the 12th edition of the conference reported on each country's approach to critical materials and trends in technology development.


In the area of technology development, discussions focused on battery, power generation, and motor technologies that support an electrified society, as well as recycling and environmental technologies for a recycling society.


As the chair country, Japan stated that the development of dysprosium-free magnets for automotive use, which has been ongoing since the inception of the meeting, is starting to get off the ground. Japan and Germany are the only two countries that manufacture powerful magnets for use in automotive motors, so we are trying to view dysprosium, one of the rare earth elements, as an important strategic material.


The U.S. reported a technology to separate rare earths from electrical and electronic wastes collected by the states. Canada announced a technology to efficiently extract rare earths from ore.


The EU provided details of its reformed battery regulations to create a supply chain for lithium-ion batteries in the region. Australia revealed the progress of its efforts to recycle packaging materials and plastic packaging, which it is building on the EU's efforts.


The next meeting is scheduled to be held in the EU next year.


→(Reference)Japan considers critical materials as strategic mineral resources and has selected 30 resources including base metals