Seabed could yield wealth of rare earths

The Yomiuri Shimbun A team of researchers from the University of Tokyo, Waseda University and other entities has found that mud on the seafloor near Minamitorishima island, one of Tokyo’s Ogasawara Islands, is estimated to contain hundreds of years’ worth of rare earths.

Based on analyses of samples, the research team has estimated that more than 16 million tons of mineral resources — if converted to oxides — equivalent to hundreds of years of global demand, are present underwater near Minamitorishima. The findings were reported in the journal Scientific Reports on Tuesday.

The researchers, led by Yutaro Takaya of Waseda University, analyzed samples obtained in 2014 and 2015 at 25 locations on the seabed south of the island. On the seabed with the highest concentration of rare earths in the surveyed area, dysprosium equivalent to 57 years of global consumption was deposited as oxides, along with terbium, yttrium and other elements. In the surveyed waters, which cover about 2,500 square kilometers, the total amount is estimated to top 16 million tons.Speech

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