Japanese researchers discover vast deposit rich in rare metals on seabed


A team of Japanese researchers has found a vast crust that is rich in rare and other important metals on the seabed, 350km off Boso Peninsula. 

Found on an underwater mountain, the vast deposit consists of iron, manganese and other rare metals such as platinum and cobalt. 

This deposit is spread over 950km², in an area where research as well as extraction activities are easier to be undertaken.

Research institutions involved in the discovery include Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). 

"There are many places with a similar topography in waters closer to the Japanese coast."

Last year, a cobalt-rich crust was discovered near Minami-Torishima island, which is around 2,000km off the country’s main island, Honshu. The latest discovery is closer to the coast than the one discovered last year.

Using an unmanned research submersible, black minerals resembling asphalt were captured. These minerals cover the mountain slope from a depth of 1,500m to 5,500m.

In some areas, the crust was found to be 13cm thick, which is a unique even by international standards.

JAMSTEC project leader Katsuhiko Suzuki was quoted by Asahi Shimbun as saying: "There are many places with a similar topography in waters closer to the Japanese coast. Further research is needed."