Mining in Japan

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Mining in Japan is minimal because Japan does not possess many on-shore mineral resources.[1] The Japanese mining industry began to rapidly decline in the 1980s.[not verified in body] Coal production shrank from a peak of 55 million tons in 1960 to slightly more than 16 million tons in 1985, while coal imports grew to nearly 91 million tons in 1987. Domestic coal mining companies faced cheap coal imports and high production costs, which caused them chronic deficits in the 1980s. In the late 1980s, Japan's approximately 1 million tons of coal reserves were mostly hard coal used for coking. Most of the coal Japan consumed is used to produce electric power.[not verified in body]

According to the Canadian Trade Commission for Japan: "In 2012, the Government of Japan increased the credit line for the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) by 10 trillion yen (approximately C$105 billion) to further enable the Japanese private sector to secure strategic natural resources, and expanded JBIC’s mandate to provide financial assistance for certain types of natural resource development projects in developed countries. Although this initiative has ended in June 2016, JBIC will continue this initiative to support the Japanese FDI opportunities in natural resources sector."[2]

In April 2018, it was reported[3] that mud from the seabed off Minamitorishima Island, some 1,150 miles southeast of Tokyo had been found to contain more than 16 million tons of rare-earth oxides. This was reported to be the equivalent to 780 years' worth of yttrium supply, 620 years of europium, 420 years of terbium and 730 years of dysprosium, at current rates of global usage.

Japanese fuels production (1916–1945)[edit]

Coal deposits[edit]

In 1925, Japan's Mining Office referred to coal reserves in the empire of 8,000 million tonnes, or 2,933 million tonnes (Kyūshū, Miiki and Mitsui deposits), 2,675 or 3,471 million tonnes (Hokkaidō, ones 1,113,600 million from Yubari mine), 1,362 million tonnes (Karafuto, in Kawakami deposits), 614 million tonnes (Honshū), 385 million tonnes (Formosa, in the Kirun area), 81 million tonnes (Korea). Extraction in Japan during 1912 was 20,000,000 tonnes, in 1932 in 30,000,000 tonnes and grew in 1941 to 55,500,000 tonnes and was divided between the following sources, in tonnes: Korea (5,000,000), Formosa (2,500,000) and Karafuto (2,500,000) and additional imports 4,000,000 tonnes from China and Indochina.[citation needed]

Japanese coal is found in the extreme ends of the country, in Hokkaidō and Kyūshū, which have, respectively, 45 and 40 percent of the country's coal deposits. Kyūshū's coal is generally of poor quality and hard to extract, but the proximity of the Kyūshū mines to ports facilitates transportation. In Hokkaido, the seams are wider, can be worked mechanically, and offer a higher-quality coal. Unfortunately, these mines are located well inland, making transportation difficult. In most Japanese coal mines, inclined galleries, which extended in some places to 9.71 kilometers underground, were used instead of pits. This arrangement is costly, despite the installation of moving platforms. The result is that a miner's daily output is far less than in Western Europe and the United States, thus domestic coal costs far more than imported coal.[citation needed]

As the coal mining industry declined, so did the general importance of domestic mining to the whole economy. Only 0.2% of the labour force was engaged in mining operations in 1988 and the value added from mining was about 0.3% of the total for all mining and manufacturing. Domestic mining production supplies an important quantity of some nonmetals: silica sand, pyrophyllite clay, dolomite, and limestone. Domestic mines are contributing declining shares of the country's requirements for some metals: zinc, copper, and gold. Almost all of the ores used in the nation's sophisticated processing industries are imported.[4]

Oil sources[edit]

In 1925, the local petroleum reserves were estimated at 2,956,000 barrels in the Niigata, Akita and Nutsu deposits and, additionally, at Sakhalin concessions. In 1941, Japanese petroleum production was 2,659,000 barrels — about the daily production in the U.S., and 0.1% of world petroleum production. In Manchukuo, oil wells gave Japan 1,000,000 of additional petroleum tonnes per year. The local oils fields of Akita, Niigata and Nutsu produced 2,659,000 barrels. Additionally, they obtained oil in Formosa (1,000,000), Soviet Sakhalin (1,000,000) and the Manchu oil distillery process.[citation needed]

Oil wells have been drilled off the west coast of Honshū and Japan has oil concessions in North Sakhalin. Iron is scarce outside of Hokkaidō and northwest Honshū, and iron pyrite has been discovered in Honshū, Shikoku and Karafuto. A modest quantity of copper and gold is mined around Honshū, Hokkaidō and Karafuto.[citation needed]

As of 2016, remaining active oil fields are:

Natural gas[edit]

Significant natural gas reserves remain in:

  • Mobara gas field[5] in Chiba Prefecture.
  • Sado island gas field (suspected offshore oil field have failed to materialize)[6][7]
  • Southern Okinawa gas field[8]

Metal Production locations[edit]

Production of copper in 1917 was 108,000 tonnes, in 1921 54,000 tonnes, in 1926 63,400 tonnes but this production was augmented to 70,000 tonnes in 1931–1937.[citation needed] Gold production in Korea was 6.2 ton in 1930 rising to 26.1 ton/year at peak. In rivers and mines, other deposits were in Saganoseki (Ōita) Honshū, Kyushu, and North Formosa. Also, Japan imported gold from overseas.

Other important iron sources were Muroran (Hokkaidō) and Kenji (Korea). Total reserves were 90 M tonnes of their own, 10 M or 50 M in Korea (Kenjiho) and Formosa. Japan imported iron from Tayeh (China), 500,000 tonnes in 1940, from Malacca, Johore and other points, 1,874,000 tonnes, from Philippines 1,236,000 tonnes, India sent 1,000,000 tonnes and 3,000,000 processed iron in bars and Australia sent a similar quantity.[citation needed] The principal silver mines were in Kosaki, Kawaga and Hitachi, and others in Karafuto with Iron Pyrite.

The production of gold was curbed in 1943 by Order for Gold Mine Consolidation to concentrate on the minerals more critical for the munitions production.

Metal sources[edit]

Cobalt, Copper, Gold, Iron, Lead, Manganese, Silver, Tin, Tungsten and Zinc are common[citation needed] and were extensively mined in Japan.

Barium, Berillium, Bismuth, Cadmium, Chromium, Indium, Lithium, Mercury, Molybdenum, Nickel, Titanium, Uranium and Vanadium are uncommon but still were mined in Japan.

Non-metal elemental sources[edit]

Antimony, Arsenic, Boron, Germanium, Graphite and Sulphur were all mined in Japan.

Complex mineral sources[edit]

Japan has a history of mining deposits of:

Read more at[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ David Bostwick, Government of Canada, Senior Trade Commissioner in Tokyo, Japan
  2. ^ David Bostwick, Government of Canada, Senior Trade Commissioner in Tokyo, Japan
  3. ^ Takaya, Yutaro (10 April 2018). "The tremendous potential of deep- sea mud as a source of rare-earth elements" (PDF). Nature.
  4. ^ "Japan : Country Studies - Federal Research Division, Library of Congress". Library of Congress. 14 February 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Recent Development of Mobara Gas Field with Special Reference to its Production Performance" By Michitaka UENO, Kiyoshi SHIINA, Toshio HOMMA, Yoshijiro SHINADA and Yutaka HIGUCHI
  6. ^ Test-drilling for oil starts in Sea of Japan off Sado
  7. ^ "Cannot verify the symptom" in Sado island off the Southwest oil and natural gas prospecting survey[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Tatsuo Kaiho, "Iodine Chemistry and Applications", p.231
  9. ^ Ryall, Julian. "Discovery of rare earth minerals off Japan coast". Malaysian Star news. Star Media Group Berhad. Retrieved 30 November 2018.

External links[edit]