Prices for neodymium, one of the raw materials for magnets used in hybrid vehicle motors has soared 60% to $170 - $190 a kilogram. Cerium used to polish LCD screen glass is up by nearly half and dysprosium by more than 30%. Dysprosium’s magnetic properties see it used in data storage systems, sonar, and ultrasonic transducers. It has been considered for use in diesel engine injectors.

But as prices rise, the Japanese Government is co-operating with industry to find ways to lessen reliance on rare earths. The group of more than 100 companies is to spend ¥2110 billion ($1.3 billion). The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will put ¥33.1 billion towards the cost of 160 projects for 110 companies.