Japan Plans for Commercial Cobalt Mining on Minami Torishima

According to a report by Japan’s “Yomiuri Shimbun” on January 18, the Japanese government has determined that it would conduct commercial mining of rare metals such as cobalt on the seabed around the southernmost island of Minami Torishima (under the jurisdiction of Ogasawara Village, Tokyo). It is planned that the mining technology will be selected by 2028 and the mining site within the exclusive economic zone will be determined.

According to the Japan Oil, Gas and Metal Mineral Resources Corporation (JOGMEC), mineral blocks called cobalt-rich crusts are widely distributed around the Island. Based on the domestic consumption, the cobalt stored here can be used in Japan for approximately 88 years and the nickel can be used for approximately 12 years. In July 2020, JOGMEC successfully completed an excavation test at a depth of 900 meters south of the Island.