Sumitomo Corporation announced on February 22 that it has signed an exclusive distributorship agreement with M.P. Materials (headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada), one of the world's largest producers and marketers of rare earths, for rare earths produced by M.P. Materials for Japan.
According to the announcement, rare earth materials such as neodymium and praseodymium are raw materials for permanent magnets called neodymium-iron-boron magnets, the most powerful magnets in the world, and these permanent magnets are essential components for advanced industries such as electric vehicles (EV), motors for wind power generation and various electronic devices, for which demand is expected to increase toward decarbonization The world's rare earths are therefore a major source of raw materials for the global supply of rare earths. As a result, global demand for rare earths is increasing rapidly and is reportedly outpacing the growth in supply. Currently, Japan's main source of supply is imports from China, the world's leading producer of rare earths, but Sumitomo Corporation intends to contribute to the diversification and stabilization of procurement in Japan through the supply of rare earths produced in the United States by MPM Materials.
M.P. Materials' Mountain Pass plant is said to operate under the strict environmental regulations of the State of California in the U.S., reusing waste and wastewater from the production process, including ore residues, to reduce the environmental impact.
Sumitomo Corporation has extensive experience in conducting exploration, development, production, and sales activities on a global scale to establish a stable supply chain for rare earths since it started import transactions in the 1980s. The company intends to use these knowledge to build value-added trade by utilizing its sophisticated management resources.
In addition, Sumitomo Corporation has been promoting decarbonization efforts in the U.S. and announced in June 2022 that it participated in an investment in TAE Technologies, a U.S. nuclear fusion-related company, in order to deepen its knowledge of the nuclear fusion field and work on its social implementation. In January 2023, the company also announced its participation in a U.S. startup's sustainable fuel production project using photocatalysts.