Huge Deposit of Rare Earth Metals Found in the Pacific
Rare earth metals are used in the production of everything from iPods to flat screen TV’s. China was the worlds leading source of these metals till today when scientists from Japan announced that they had located a huge cache of these metals in the Pacific Ocean. China accounts for 97 per cent of the world’s production of 17 rare-earth elements, whose unique electrical, magnetic, optical and thermal properties make them vital ingredients for some of the most technologically advanced products.
According to the journal Nature Geoscience, a team of scientists led by Yasuhiro Kato, found an estimated 100 billion tonnes of the minerals in mud at 78 locations on the Pacific seabed. To give an idea of just how much that is, the current reserves of rare earth metals amount to 110 million tons which are found mostly in China, Russia and other Soviet countries and the US. The commercial viability of procuring these metals has yet to be worked out as they are located deep in the ocean, at approximately 13,000ft and 16,250ft.
China’s commerce ministry said that between January and November last year, the country exported 35,000 tonnes of rare-earth minerals, up 14.5 per cent on 2009. About a third of China’s reserves have already been used up, leaving about 15 years’ worth at the current rate of depletion.