Japan Finds Minerals Mines


Japan has suddenly discovered something it has never had before – rich deposits of valuable mineral resources.

Japan has always suffered from being a nation without natural resources. It has had to import all its oil and raw materials. Now all that has changed. It has discovered mines.


Now these aren’t conventional mines, they’re ‘urban mines’ in other words rubbish dumps, but Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) estimates that these urban mines contain three times as much gold, silver and indium than the rest of the world uses, or buys, annually.


For platinum, Japan’s urban mines could contain six times annual global consumption, says NIMS.


One company which extracts precious metals from urban mines, Asahi Pretec, retrieved 15 tonnes of gold last year.


NIMS says that, if the urban mines were properly exploited, Japan would immediately jump into the top five producers of some of these metals along with countries like the Canada, Australia and Brazil.


The genesis of this new-found wealth is Japan’s love of new electronics products. The Japanese are early adopters and among the earliest chuck-away-ers. For instance they dump 20 million mobile phones a year.


Nonetheless only 550 tonnes a year of electronic waste gets re-cycled – about 13 per cent of the total.


Japan has two problems in managing its new-found natural resources: identifying urban mines, and improving the processes for extracting the precious metals.




  1. Thanks George. I must say I too was very surprised to read about the quantities being extracted.
    Have a nice stay in Japan
    All the best

  2. Hello,
    I am taking a Geology class and have this week to discuss an important mineral in my local area. Well it turns out that my local area is Japan since I am stationed here in Yokosuka Japan. I have looked up some articles on the minerals of Japan and I know that the natural recourses of Japan are in small amounts or non existent. However, this article is interesting because I know and am an advocate of recycling in my local community where I live and have read a little of how the Japanese recover some of the materials of local dumps, but I did not realize how significant the quantities and the different precious materials were recovered each year and how it could possibly be more that the entire annual global requirements.
    Have a nice day,

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