MP Materials Corp, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, and Sumitomo Corporation, Tokyo, Japan, have announced an agreement to diversify and strengthen rare earth supplies in Japan. Under the agreement, Sumitomo Corporation will serve as the exclusive distributor of neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) oxide, produced by MP Materials, to Japanese customers. The companies also stated plans to collaborate on the supply of rare earth metals and other products.
Rare earth materials such as NdPr are used to produce the world’s most powerful and efficient magnets. Rare earth magnets are key inputs to electrification and advanced technologies including electric vehicles, wind turbines, and various electronic devices.
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The effort to electrify and decarbonise the global economy is causing demand for rare earths to grow rapidly, outpacing new supply. Access to MP Materials’ US-produced rare earths is hoped to stabilise, diversify, and strengthen a supply chain of critical importance to Japan’s manufacturing sector.
Sumitomo Corporation has a long history in the rare earth industry, beginning to trade and distribute REE materials in the 1980s. To help establish a stable global supply chain for rare earths, Sumitomo Corporation has engaged in rare earth exploration, development, production, and trading activities globally.
MP Materials’ Mountain Pass facility in California is stated as being the largest source of rare earth production in the Western Hemisphere. Mountain Pass is a closed loop, zero-discharge facility with a dry tailings process that operates under stringent US and California environmental regulations.