Researchers have found a deposit of rare-earth minerals off the coast of Japan that could supply the world for centuries, according to a new study.
The study, published in the journal Nature on Tuesday, says the deposit contains 16 million tons of the valuable metals.
This is excellent news, in my opinion. Nearly all current production of rare-earth minerals comes from China, which allows them to set the price. Given that rare-earth elements are vital in the production of electronics and batteries, having another source of these minerals are essential to electronics and battery manufacturers in countries other than China that do not wish to be beholden to the world’s top manufacturer of electronics and batteries.
Of course, it would be nice if the US could use its own rare-earth mine, but unfortunately, that mine has fallen on hard times recently.
Still, it is nice to see a country other than China get in this game. Hopefully, this deposit is easy to mine!
The cache lies off of Minamitori Island, about 1,150 miles southeast of Tokyo.
The only thing holding Japan back from using its newly found deposit to dominate the global market for rare-earth minerals is the challenge involved in extracting them. The process is expensive, so more research needs to be done to determine the cheapest methods, Yutaro Takaya, the study’s lead author, told The Journal.
Oh. Well, then. Not going to hold my breath.
(Featured image by Brücke-Osteuropa [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons)