Japan Finds Major Rare Earth Bed In Waters Near Easternmost Island

Japan finds major rare earth bed in waters near easternmost islandA group of Japanese researchers has found a mineral deposit that could contain massive amounts of rare earth minerals in the seabed around Minamitorishima Island, Japan's easternmost island about 2,000 kilometers southeast of Tokyo, the group said Thursday.  

The group, headed by University of Tokyo professor Yasuhiro Kato, an expert in earth resources, said that an estimated 6.8 million tons of rare earth minerals, including dysprosium, exist in the mud in the deposit, which is within Japan's exclusive economic zone.  

The amount is equivalent to some 230 years' worth of domestic consumption of the minerals, which are indispensable for producing high-tech products such as hybrid cars and mobile phones, and the discovery is the first of such magnitude in Japan's EZZ.