If China is trying to give its manufacturers a leg up by restricting exports of rare earth metals, it may find the advantage temporary.
With prices spiking following the latest in a series of annual export quota reductions by Beijing earlier this summer, miners have been scrambling to develop deposits of the essential industrial minerals worldwide. Now Japan’s Nikkei business daily reports that Japanese manufacturers have developed technologies to make automotive and home appliance motors without rare earth metals. Hitachi has come up with a motor that uses a ferrite magnet made of the cheaper and more common ferric oxide. Meanwhile the chemicals conglomerate Teijin and Tohoku University have co-developed technology to make a powerful magnet using a new composite made of iron and nitrogen.