Research confirms rich rare earths in mud from Pacific seabed
Tokyo: A deep sea survey near a remote Japanese island in the Pacific has confirmed a rich deposit of rare earth minerals in mud taken from the seabed, a Japanese research team said today.
The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and the University of Tokyo analysed mud samples taken in January from seven locations on the ocean floor as deep as 5,800 meters and found rare earth minerals concentration far higher than those contained in soil in China, they said.
A deep-sea research vessel, the Kairei, surveyed the areas near Japan's easternmost Minamitorishima island some 2,000 kilometres southeast of Tokyo, where about 230 years worth of domestic consumption of the minerals are estimated to exist in the seabed.
The research team confirmed concentrations of the minerals of as high as over 0.65 percent of the mud, about 20 times higher than a typical level found at Chinese mines, they said.
Rare earth minerals such as dysprosium are essential for producing high-tech products such as hybrid car motors and mobile phone parts.