Having written about this only a week ago, even better news is on the horizon for the future supply of rare earth metals. Japanese researchers have found that many sea beds around the world have been identified as having large deposits of rare earth metals:
The British journal Nature Geoscience reported that a team of scientists led by Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth science at the University of Tokyo, found the minerals in sea mud at 78 locations.
“The deposits have a heavy concentration of rare earths. Just one square kilometre (0.4 square mile) of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption,” said Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth science at the University of Tokyo.
The minerals were found at depths of 3,500 to 6,000 metres (11,500-20,000 ft) below the ocean surface.
As technology improves, firms and researchers are continually able to find new resources that were previously unobtainable. It’s not clear that these resources are obtainable in ways that prove economical compared to normal surface mining in China, America, and other parts of the world. However, if the world continues to use rare earth elements in increasing quantities, it is comforting to know there are massive amounts of these resources yet to be developed in the world that are available if necessary. A resourceful earth indeed.