Gallery: Japan Finds Vast Reserves of Rare Earth Minerals That Could Be...


Japan just announced that they’ve discovered a deposit of rare earth minerals off their coast in the Pacific Ocean that, if commercially viable, could change the worldwide market for the expensive materials. The deposit could yield as much as 80 to 100 billion tonnes of rare earth minerals and though Japan isn’t being specific about which materials they’ve found there, it is likely to contain gold and copper. China currently holds an estimated 97% of the world’s stores of rare earth minerals, which are used in many high tech gadgets like solar panels, cell phones, television sets and vehicles. Will Japan’s find change all of that?

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  1. caeman July 5, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    In theory, the hydrological cycle would replenish the oceans.

  2. lazyreader July 5, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Maybe rare earths are not so rare. There should be an adequate supply to sustain industrial needs for many decades. A few years ago they announced Japanese scientists can extract minerals from sea water. They can separate uranium from the water, while not yet nearly as economical compared to surface mining. However it holds promise for future extraction, nearly a thousand times as abundant than in the ground. With this kind of mining we may hold vast reserves of 57 trace minerals and metals. My concern is, don’t marine life in the sea also need those minerals to live such as magnesium and calcium, not rare earth elements.

  3. caeman July 5, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Hooray for something to challenge China’s dominance.

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