Amid mud on the seabed 2,000 kilometers from Tokyo, Japan may have found the answer to its rare-earth supply concerns for centuries to come.
For the first time, Japanese explorers have discovered large deposits of rare-earth minerals on the ocean floor within the country's exclusive economic zone.
The researchers estimate about 6.8 million metric tons of rare earth minerals, including dysprosium, exist in the mud across a 1,000-square-meter seabed near Japan's easternmost island, Minami-torishima, about 2,000 kilometers southeast of Tokyo.
The volume is impressive: The recoverable minerals could be enough to supply Japan's rare earth metal consumption for at least 200 years, team leader Yasuhiro Kato, an earth sciences professor at Tokyo University, said on Friday.
The underwater discovery of the minerals—a centerpiece in rising global trade tensions with China—could be a valuable boon for Japan. In March, Asia's second-largest economy joined an international trade action lodged by the U.S. and European Union against China, which produces more than 95% of the world's rare earth supplies over curbed exports of the minerals. . .View Full Article