Japanese Scientists Discover Rare Earth Minerals in Pacific Ocean

5 July 2011 (Last Updated July 5th, 2011 18:30)

Japanese scientists have discovered vast deposits of rare earth minerals in the Pacific Ocean seabed, which can be used in high-tech appliances. About 100 billion tons of rare earth elements were found at 78 locations, by a team of scientists led by Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professo

Japanese scientists have discovered vast deposits of rare earth minerals in the Pacific Ocean seabed, which can be used in high-tech appliances.

About 100 billion tons of rare earth elements were found at 78 locations, by a team of scientists led by Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth science at the University of Tokyo.

The minerals were found at depths of 3,500-6,000m below the ocean surface, and are located east and west of Hawaii, US, and east of Tahiti in French Polynesia.

University of Tokyo associate professor of earth science Yasuhiro Kato told BBC news that the deposits have a heavy concentration of rare earths, and that 1km² of the deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption.