Japan lobbies Australia for electric-car battery minerals and rare earths– report

Australia could be part of Japan's plan to secure a "China-free" supply of electric-vehicle battery minerals and rare earths.

Japan is hoping to side-step China by sourcing battery minerals and rare earths for its electric cars directly from Australia and Canada.

News outlet Nikkei Asia reports Japanese government ministers have been in discussions with their counterparts in the two countries, as the US pushes for manufacturing nations to develop "China-free" supply chains.

A Japanese official told Nikkei Asia Australia and Canada are ideal partners as they "share the same sense of caution against China".

It's understood representatives from Japan visited Australian officials in June, before Japan's trade minister and officials from large battery companies visited Canada last month – the first time such a meeting had occurred on Canadian soil in a decade.

However, other manufacturing countries such as South Korea have already sought to secure Australian- and Canadian-sourced minerals.

Despite more than half of the world's lithium being found in Australia, the International Energy Agency reports the majority of the world's lithium materials are refined and processed in China.

In May 2023, the US Government redefined Australian mining companies as 'domestic' suppliers, allowing projects to be funded under the US Defence Production Act.

US authorities also offer a $US7500 ($AU11,770) tax credit to local electric-car buyers – on the proviso the battery materials have been supplied from the US or its allies, while the battery itself has to have been manufactured in North America.

Ben Zachariah

Ben Zachariah is an experienced writer and motoring journalist from Melbourne, having worked in the automotive industry for more than 15 years. Ben was previously an interstate truck driver and completed his MBA in Finance in early 2021. He is considered an expert in the area of classic car investment.

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