By Adam Currie — Exclusive to Rare Earth Investing News
Japanese automobile manufacturer Honda (NYSE:HMC) announced that it has te amed up with Japan Metals & Chemicals Co. to develop what is being hailed as the world's first mass-production rare earth recycling process.
In a press release, Honda stated that it will pursue recycling of resources by making use of a new process for recycling rare earth metals. Until now, techniques for the extraction of rare earth have been undertaken on a relatively minor scale and required highly controlled conditions, making the process questionable in terms of both logistics and feasibility. However, the companies confirmed that they have established “the world's first process to extract rare earth metals from various used parts in Honda products, in an actual mass-production process at a recycling plant, not an experimental process.” They added that as part of this effort they will also be working in conjunction with each other to begin extracting rare earth metals from used nickel-metal hydride batteries collected from hybrid vehicles at dealers inside and outside of Japan, before the end of April. Honda not alone Honda's revelation came soon after Toyota Motor Corp.'s (TSE: 7203) announcement that it has developed a method to manufacture hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) without the use of increasingly expensive rare earth elements (REEs). Toyota, the world's top producer of fuel-saving hybrid vehicles, also stated that it could bring the technology to market if the price of rare earth does not recede. Honda confirmed that it has sold 800,000 hybrids worldwide and said that it has already successfully tried its technique on approximately 2,000 batteries. "Previously, Honda had been applying a heat treatment to used nickel-metal hydride batteries and recycling nickel-containing scrap for recycling use as a raw material for stainless steel," the company said in a statement. "However, the successful stabilisation of the extraction process at the plant of Japan Metals & Chemicals Co., Ltd. made possible the extraction of approximately 80% of rare earth metals contained in used nickel-metal hydride batteries, with purity as high as that of newly mined and refined metals."