Friday, June 29, 2012

No. 549: Yes, we made it (June 29, 2012)

Business trend:
A research team organized by Yasuhiro Kato of the University of Tokyo found mud that contains a large amount of rare earthes in the sea bottom near Minamitorishma Island of the Ogasawara Islands that is inside the Japanese exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Last year, Japan found a seafloor deposit containing rare earthes in the high seas, but this is the first time that it found mud containing rare earthes inside the Japanese exclusive economic zone. This area is supposed to provide rare earthes equivalent to satisfy Japan’s annual domestic consumption for more than 200 years. The point that the research team collected the mud is in the sea bottom 5,600 m below the surface of the sea and about 300 km offshore of Minamitorishma Island.

This seafloor deposit extends to more than 1,000 square meters and supposedly contain about 6,800,000 tons of rare earthes. In particular, such heavy rare earthes required to increase the performance of the magnet of motor as dysprosium were found available in abundance. The research team started conducting the substantiative experiment to collect mud from the sea bottom in alliance with private companies. Technological issues need to be solved to collect rare earthes effectively and efficiently, but it is clear that Japan will depend less on imports for rare earthes.

 Minamitorishima Island is about 1,800 km
away from Tokyo and Japan's easternmost point

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