Mexico's largest mining company Grupo Mexico is planning to diversify into rare earth metals business, to meet the growing demand in the electronics, automotive and energy sectors.
The move by the company came after the Mexican Government recently announced its plans to fund exploration projects for locating rare earth metal deposits.
The government came forward for funding, after the recent tests by Mexican universities found that Sonora, Chihuahua, Oaxaca and Chiapas states in the country have huge deposits of rare earth, which can be recovered in economically viable ways.
Mexican scientists reported concentrations of 10% to 15% in Oaxaca, 4% to 5% in Hidalgo, and 4% in Coahuila, Sonora, Sinaloa and Durango.
Rare earth metals are being widely used in a variety of industries including green technology, consumer electronics and high-tech applications. China is currently the largest producer of the metal, accounting for 95% of the world's production.
According to Mexico's Geological Survey (SGM), the global demand for rare earth metals is expected to reach 160,000t in 2016, out of which 80% will be produced by China, leaving ample prospect for companies like Grupo, reported Mining Global.
Apart from Chinese mines, only two mines with rare earth metals are currently in operations across the world, namely Lynas-owned Mount Weld mine in Australia and Molycorp-owned mine in California.
Grupo Mexico has exploration projects and operations in Mexico, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina and the US, where it mines copper, molybdenum, zinc, silver, gold and lead ores.
Image: Mexico is planning to mine rare earth metals. Photo: courtesy of the US Government.