Japan Rare Metal Import Stays Low Level in April

Japanese rare metal import volume maintained low in April. Indium import was 9 tonnes, decreasing by 84% from a year earlier, according to the trade statistics by Ministry of Finance. The import hit the lowest volume since June 2009 when Japanese sputtering target material makers those who are major consumers of indium continued slow material procurement. Rare earth import was also low in April. Domestic rare metal consumption is decreasing mainly in electronics industry.

幸运飞艇官网 About 80-90% of indium is consumed for ITO (indium-tin-oxide) sputtering target which is transparent electrode material of liquid crystal panel. Major ITO makers including JX Nippon Mining & Metals and Mitsui Mining & Smelting hold their main plants in Japan.

Samsung of South Korea, the world top maker of liquid crystal panel, currently accelerates self manufacturing of ITO sputtering target. In addition, Japanese trader source said Chinese ITO makers are recently entering the market. Moreover, liquid crystal panel market is globally deteriorating and Japanese panel makers are losing their competitiveness. Thus domestic indium consumption is slow.

Metallic neodymium import was 277 tonnes in April, decreasing by 40% from a year earlier, which is used for motor magnets on electric vehicle or energy saving home appliances. The import volume has gradually increased since the current bottom in February but represented lower than the monthly average of 434 tonnes in 2011. One trader source said the users still hold surplus material inventories. Import volumes also maintain low for rare earth oxides such as cerium oxide, yttrium oxide and lanthanum oxide.