Huge rare earth elements find in ocean

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A massive amount of rare earth minerals has been discovered in the Pacific Ocean, in international waters by a Japanese team. Rare earth elements are essential to making many products including mobile phones, TV screens and hybrid batteries, among many other important products. The part that is most important in this story is that currently China dominates the rare earth minerals market. They control about 95%-97% of the global rare earth minerals industry and they have already limited exports of them in the past. The rest of the world must find alternative sources to these crucial elements in order to have a steady and reliable supply.

In fact, the problem with rare earth minerals is not so much the lack of them. They really aren’t as rare as their name suggests. The problem that other countries have is that it is difficult to separate the minerals from the ground they are found in. This is what China has mastered. However, the Japanese team that found these huge deposits in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean says that they are easier to separate from the mud they are in than normal. If true, this represents a great opportunity for the Western world. The size of these deposits is reported to be as much as 1,000 times the current global reserve inventory of the minerals.

To be clear, even if the amounts and the ease of separation with this find are true, it will likely take several years to actually get these minerals to market. Legal issues will have to be taken care of since it is in international waters and because acid will need to be used to separate the minerals which will cause pollution. They will also need to do the drilling and develop the separation method for water since until now companies have only been doing this work on land. Either way, this is a very important story to keep tabs on because it could turn a very important industry on its head and change the dominance from Chinese to Western at some point.