Japan, Saudi Arabia to Enhance Key Mineral Supply Chain; Focus on Resource-Rich Countries in Africa, Latin America

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

The government is set to cooperate with Saudi Arabia, which has strong financial resources, to promote the development of mines and the acquisition of interests in Africa and other areas rich in key minerals essential for electric vehicles and storage batteries, according to sources.

Japan’s goal is to strengthen its economic security through the assurance of a stable supply of key minerals.

On the occasion of Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Ken Saito’s visit to Saudi Arabia from Saturday, the ministry, the Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, the Japan Organization for Metals and Energy Security (JOGMEC) and Saudi firm Manara Minerals Investment Co. are expected to have finalized arrangements to sign a memorandum of understanding.

The two governments will consider cooperative investments in mines and project creation in third countries, with a focus on Africa and Latin America. JOGMEC and Manara aim to realize several cooperative investments within two years.

The key minerals include copper, which is widely used in automobiles and electronic devices as well as nickel and lithium, which are indispensable for the production of storage batteries.

They also plan to promote information exchange, human resource development and the exchange of experts in the mining industry.

With JOGMEC’s expertise in mining exploration, Japan has a proven track record of providing technical and financial support for Japanese companies’ investments in Africa and other resource-rich countries.

Japan, which has also been strengthening its ties with resource-rich countries in strengthening its supply network, agreed in summer to expand cooperation with three African countries to ensure stable supply.

Saudi Arabia, an oil-producing country, is looking to create a new industry alongside oil as it moves toward decarbonization. It plans to acquire mining interests outside the country by cooperating with Japan, which has the technology and track record to do so.

Chinese companies have proactively invested in Africa to acquire mining interests, which has increased China’s share of the key minerals market.

Having already strengthened ties with the United States and European countries, Japan is looking to resource-rich countries in Africa and elsewhere to broaden its supply chain.

The government hopes to increase its ties with oil-producing countries through cooperation with Saudi Arabia.