JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Jamaica now has full ownership of the Rare Earth Element Plant, following a formal handing over of the facility to the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) by Nippon Light Metal Holding Company Limited (NLM).
  • Over the next two years, JBI will continue to receive technical expertise in bauxite red mud mineral extraction from Nippon Light.
  • This will be a continuation of the Japanese firm’s approximately $600 million investment in the Rare Earth Element Pilot Plant Project.

Jamaica now has full ownership of the Rare Earth Element Plant, following a formal handing over of the facility to the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) by Nippon Light Metal Holding Company Limited (NLM) on October 9.

Over the next two years, JBI will continue to receive technical expertise in bauxite red mud mineral extraction from Nippon Light. This will be a continuation of the Japanese firm’s approximately $600 million investment in the Rare Earth Element Pilot Plant Project, jointly developed with the JBI, which was completed earlier this year.

The project entailed development of a state-of-the-art facility on the grounds of the JBI, at Hope Gardens, St. Andrew, for the extraction of rare earth elements from bauxite residue and to determine the scope of a commercial rare earth elements extraction venture in Jamaica.

Commercial engagements under the project have been suspended due to unfavourable market conditions for rare earth elements, which are key components for manufacturing products such as electronic devices, and will resume when there is improvement.

Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining Minister, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, and representatives of the JBI and Nippon Light, on Thursday, October 9, signed a Termination Agreement to formally mark the project’s conclusion and facilitate transfer of the plant’s full ownership to the JBI, during a brief meeting at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices.

The parties also signed a collaboration agreement formalizing the two year research and development arrangement, and a Patent Application Agreement that will protect the JBI’s and Nippon Light’s interests in the project, by guaranteeing them exclusive rights to the two patents developed, which they will share equally.

Mr. Paulwell described the project as a “successful” and “tremendous” partnership, pointing out that “it represented…breakthrough technology that we have been able to pursue.”

“One of the (key) things…is the whole environmental issue (where) we were able demonstrate how we could effectively neutralize the alkaline nature of the red mud. I think this is a tremendous success for the country. We believe that this augurs well as we go forward (in terms of what) we will do (as it relates to other) metals to see how those can be extracted, as well,’ he said.

Mr. Paulwell also conveyed the regards of Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, whom he said was unable to attend the meeting due to other pressing national matters.

“Our Prime Minister… has sent her best wishes, and she says she knows that this project… will, eventually, be very successful, as soon as the long term financials look better…and she is very confident that it is going to look much better for us, in the future,” Mr. Paulwell added.

JBI Executive Director, Parris A. Lyew-Ayee, in expressing gratitude to Nippon Light, said the company’s handing over of the plant’s full ownership to the Institute is a “magnanimous gift to the Government of Jamaica.”

He also welcomed the opportunity for the JBI to continue working with Nippon Light over the next two years.

Nippon Light’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Takashi Ishiyamo, also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the venture.

He said the project was successful in yielding the technical results targeted, and his company is ready to provide the JBI with the support it requires for rare earth extraction.

“I really hope…this project will be useful for the development of your country in the future,” he added.