Japanese Discover Rare Earth Deposit 800 Times Larger Than Current Land Resources in the Pacific Ocean

This is huge news befitting Independence Day. Japan, the US, and others have depended on China for their rare earth, an essential element of much advanced technology, until now. China has used that as a weapon, cutting off exports when countries offend it. No longer.

(By the way, today also brought news of a big archaeological discovery in India.)

Rare Earth Deposit
Associate Professor Yasuhiro Katō’s research group found an estimated 8.8 million square kilometer deposit near the Hawaiian Islands and 2.4 million more square kilometers in the southeastern Pacific near Tahiti.

Japanese Discover Rare Earth Deposit 800 Times Larger Than Current Land Resources in the Pacific Ocean
太平洋にレアアース鉱床…陸上埋蔵量の800倍
July 4, 2011

A mineral deposit rich with rare earth, an essential ingredient for hybrid cars, LED screens, and other technology, was discovered on the ocean floor, 3500-6000 meters deep, by Tokyo University School of Engineering Associate Professor Yasuhiro Katō’s research group.

The quantity of rare earth in the deposit is an estimated 800 times greater than the 110 million tons known to be underground.  The discovery is notable because it provides security from the current principal supplier, China, and the future exhaustion of the resource.

The discovery was announced on the 4th of July in the English language electronic journal Nature Geoscience.

The Katō group is a part of an international deep-sea resource excavation program that has gathered sediment from the Pacific Ocean floor and analyzed the composition of over 2000 samples.

Original/原稿:
太平洋にレアアース鉱床…陸上埋蔵量の800倍

ハイブリッド車のモーターやLED照明などに不可欠なレアアースを豊富に含む鉱床が、太平洋の深さ3500~6000メートルの海底に大量に存在することを、東京大工学系研究科の加藤泰浩准教授らの研究グループが発見した。

資源量は、陸上埋蔵量(約1億1000万トン)の800倍に及ぶと見積もられ、中国依存の供給事情や将来の枯渇などの懸念を抱えるレアアースの安定確保につながる成果として注目される。

成果は、4日の英科学誌ネイチャー・ジオサイエンス電子版に発表される。

グループでは、日本や米国が参加した国際深海掘削計画などで太平洋の広範囲で採取され、参加各国の研究機関に保管されている2000を超える海底堆積物の試料の組成を分析した。
(2011年7月4日02時02分 読売新聞)

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One Comment on “Japanese Discover Rare Earth Deposit 800 Times Larger Than Current Land Resources in the Pacific Ocean”


  1. […] is problematic because of its unstable supply (roughly 90% of which was thought to be in China until this month) and its rising price. Japan uses about 30,000 metric tons per […]


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