If things go as expected then Japan could dominate the global supply of rare-earth minerals. The researchers in Japan found deposits of rare-earth minerals which can meet global demand on a ‘semi-infinite basis’.
The researchers said that there are 16 million tons of those materials. There’s enough amount of yttrium to sustain the global demand for almost 8 centuries. There are also enough amounts of dysprosium, europium and terbium to meet the demand for centuries.
The rare mineral was identified off the coast of Japan, specifically Minamitori Island about 1,150 miles southeast of Tokyo. The island has sole right to the cache since it is located in the country’s exclusive economic zone.
There are only handful of locations where rare minerals can be mined and extracted and the process is obviously pretty expensive. China has been in the forefront for decades when it comes to the supply of rare-earth metals.
Japan started to look for the minerals after China stopped their shipments. Volcanic activity contributes to the formation of rare-earth minerals. In fact, many of the ones existing on the planet were initially formed by supernova explosions.
Though, Japan has made the discovery it can’t use the deposit just yet as the process of extraction can be really expensive.
Moreover, Yutaro Takaya said that more research is necessary to learn more about the cheapest extraction method that can be implemented.