Underwater Cache of 16M Tons Could Supply World

When it comes to technology, scientists would be up a creek without a paddle had they not discovered how to use the 17 rare metals that make up the contents of smart phones, computers, and a myriad of devices including producing ever greener technologies

While China currently provides a whopping 90% of these rare and much needed metals, only seven other countries provide the remaining 10%. That may change now that Japan has found an enormous cache of the metals off of their coastline.

The 17 elements that we are speaking of can be found in the chart above; most on the second row from the bottom. Why are these elements so vital?

According to the Rare Earth Technology Alliance, due to the “unique magnetic, luminescent, and electrochemical properties, these elements help make many technologies perform with reduced weight, reduced emissions, and energy consumption; or give them greater efficiency, performance, miniaturization, speed, durability, and thermal stability.”

Japan discovered this incredibly valuable pile of rocks about 1,850 kilometers off the shore of Minamitori Island. Engineers located the minerals in 10-meter-deep cores taken from seafloor sediment.

Their engineers estimate there could be as much as 16 million tons of the metals, five times more than have been mined worldwide since 1980 according to reports.

It won’t be easy or cheap to retrieve these precious finds, but it is in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, so investors will be incentivized to assist with the funding. The find is so extraordinary, according to a study reported in Nature journal, the deposit is enough to, “supply these metals on a semi-infinite basis to the world.”

read more at bigthink.com