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Good news for Jamaica: A team of Japanese scientists from Nippon Light Metal Co. says that the distinctive red mud of the Caribbean country holds an abundance of valuable rare earth elements.

In a meeting with the Jamaican parliament, the Minister of Science, Technology, Energy & Mining, Philip Paulwell, reported that the Japanese research team found high concentrations of rare earth elements in the country’s red bauxite mud. The Nippon Light Metal Co. team believes that the minerals can be extracted from the red bauxite residue.

Rare earth metals are used to build smart phones, wind turbines, guided missiles, and other hi-tech devices. China currently controls 90% of the global supply. Japan and other OECD countries have been seeking out alternative sources.

According to Minister Paulwell, the presence and potential for extraction of rare earth minerals in Jamaica will create new jobs and draw foreign investment to the country.

Already, Nippon Light Metal has indicated its willingness to invest $3 million in a pilot project. The Japanese company is also willing to handle operating costs. In exchange, Nippon Light Metal and Jamaica will split any extracted rare earth elements between them.

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