Japan discovers vast deposits of rare earths on Pacific sea floor

If you are a fan of gadgets, you have used things that require rare earths in their construction. There are deposits of rare earths spread around the world, but the vast majority of the world's supply of rare earths are in China. China has a very tight grip on rare earths exports allowing them to control the prices of the material and keep the price up.

China's dominance may not last long though with a new discovery by Japanese researchers. Japan has found "vast" deposits of rare earths on the floor of the Pacific ocean. The caveat at this point is that we don't know if the retrieval of the rare earths deposits will be economically viable. More study is going on right now.

The minerals were found in vast mud despots in 78 different locations around the country. The deposits are 11,500 to 20,000 feet below the ocean's surface. The deposits are in international waters. The rare earths are estimated to be in the 80 to 100 billion ton range. The estimated global supply of rare earths today is 110 million tons making the discovery very significant.

[via BBC]