• TDK plans to manufacture rare-earth magnets in South China

    TDK will begin to manufacture rare-earth magnets ( a kind of strong neodymium magnets) in south China.

    TDK Corp. said it will establish a joint venture in China’s southern Guangdong province in May to manufacture rare-earth magnets, for which global demand is expected to surge.

    The company said the joint venture, Guangdong TDK Rising Rare Earth High Technology Material Co., will be set up by three companies: TDK, Rising Nonferrous Metals Co., a Guangdong-based resource development company, and Tokai Trade Co., a Tokyo-based trading company.

    TDK will hold a 59-percent share in the $33-million venture while Rising Nonferrous Metals and Tokai Trade will have 37 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

    TDK manufactures various electronic devices for use in automobiles, IT equipment and other applications, as well as various magnets for industrial equipment.

    Japan took another step toward lessening its rare earths dependence today, announcing plans to drastically reduce consumption levels in response to China’s continued market dominance. Of particular concern to the Japanese government is dysprosium — a rare earth used in the production of high-powered magnets. China, which accounts for about 95 percent of the world’s rare earth supply, has been tightening export controls on the metal in recent months, sending global prices skyward. With its domestic supplies dwindling, Japan has now committed to reducing its dysprosium consumption by 30 percent over the next few years, as part of a $65 million initiative. Much of that money will presumably go toward helping manufacturers develop alternative production and recycling methods, as some already have. Toyota, for instance, has found a way to produce hybrid and electric vehicles without using dysprosium, while Mitsubishi, Panasonic and TDK are currently looking at ways to extract the metal from old air conditioners. If effective, the government’s program would reduce domestic consumption by between 200 and 400 tonnes per year.