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Japan, the US and the Philippines to strengthen nickel supply chains; Reduce dependence on China for critical minerals

Thanks to METI
Industry ministers will attend the US, Japan and Philippines ministerial meeting in Washington on Thursday.

WASHINGTON — Japan, the United States and the Philippines agreed Thursday at a trilateral summit at the White House to build ties to strengthen supply chains of nickel — a crucial mineral essential for the batteries used in electric vehicles .

The Philippines is the world’s second-largest producer of nickel ore, and China is the second-largest producer of refined nickel.

The three countries will accelerate the creation of a supply chain that is not overly dependent on China to strengthen their economic security.

Economic security

“The three countries shared an awareness of the issues and agreed on the need for economic security while discussing the stable supply of critical minerals,” Economy, Trade and Industry Secretary Ken Saito said at a news conference in Washington on Thursday.

He attended the US-Japan-Philippines ministerial meeting in Washington ahead of the trilateral leaders’ summit.

The joint statement issued after the summit clearly stated: “Japan, the Philippines and the United States support critical minerals industries in all our countries.”

The three countries will promote discussions on the stable supply of nickel through a framework in which resource-rich countries and high-consuming countries in Europe, Africa and other regions work together to share information and invest in the development of crucial minerals.

They also plan to expand the refining process to extract the metal from nickel ore beyond countries like China and discuss effective policy support.

High market share

14Gen2ニッケル生産シェア脇
The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Philippines is the world’s second largest producer of nickel ore after Indonesia. However, Indonesia and China have a larger market share in molten and refined nickel. While Indonesia has banned mineral exports, China is acquiring mining rights and interests in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries, increasing its influence in the international market.

China is also acquiring concessions in Africa and other regions and has a large share of refined products from crucial minerals such as lithium and cobalt.

It is essential to build a supply network of nickel and other crucial minerals that is not overly dependent on China, to counter the economic pressure the country can exert through trade restrictions. Companies are also under pressure to diversify their purchasing.

Meanwhile, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and the costs of mineral smelting product production is a challenge.

Since Chinese products are very price competitive, it is also necessary to take “supportive measures to encourage enterprises to purchase [alternative] products even though the price is higher due to environmental concerns,” said a government official.

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