Jamaica official says researchers have found rare-earth elements in island's bauxite residue

Jamaica's top energy official says the Caribbean island may benefit from deposits of rare-earth elements that are key ingredients for cellphones, wind turbines and gas-saving cars.

Science, Technology, Energy & Mining Minister Philip Paulwell says Japanese researchers believe they have found "high concentrations of rare earth elements" in the country's red mud, or bauxite residues.

Paulwell says researchers from Japan's Nippon Light Metal Co. Ltd. believe it can be efficiently extracted.

He says a pilot program will establish the scope of a project and its environmental impact. The island's environment agency has already authorized the pilot program but other agencies still need to examine it.

Paulwell made the announcement Tuesday in Parliament, touting it as something that "has the potential to redefine Jamaica's economic prospects in a positive way."