Russian state corporation Rostec announced on Tuesday it has laid down plans to undergo massive rare earths production in support of the country's bid to lessen its dependence on China for the supply of the precious metals.
Along with IST group, an investment company of Russian tycoon Alexander Nesis, Rostec said it will invest $1 billion to facilitate greater rare earths production by 2018.
"The (Russian) President (Vladimir Putin) and the government have set a task to expand rare earths production as Russia's stocks are almost depleted," Reuters quoted on Tuesday an unidentified source in state industrial and defence conglomerate Rostec.
"Stocks need to be replenished as the main producer, China, has increased prices sharply," the source said.
Russia's consumption of rare earths is expected to grow to 6,000 tonnes annually by 2020, according to Rostec. Currently, the country consumes 1,500 tonnes of rare earths per year.
"Russia accounts for only 2 per cent of the world's rare earths production. Without new projects, its share in world output would fall below 1.5 per cent in the coming years," Sergey Chemezov, Rostec's chief executive, said in a statement.
"Besides that, Russia's high-tech industry will be protected against fluctuations in the rare earths global market."
China, which controls more than 90 per cent of the world's supply of rare earths, has been alleged by the U.S., Japan and the European Union to be using its monopoly of the precious elements to drive up global prices. These elements are essential to manufacture high-technology products and gadgets needed for defence, telecommunications and renewable energy, among others.
The joint venture project of Rostec and IST group, TriArkMining, is set to extract 40,000 tonnes of rare earths, having won the right to a monazite concentrate currently stored by state-owned Uralmonatsit in warehouses in the Sverdlovsk region of Russia's Urals.
The stored monazite concentrate, placed at 82,653 tonnes worth, is believed to carry heavy rare earths dysprosium and terbium. Heavy rare earths are considered more valuable because they are scarcer than light rare earths such as cerium.
Effective 2015, the extraction will occur over seven or eight years, Rostec and IST group said.
To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail:
To contact the editor, e-mail: