A massive, ‘semi-infinite’ trove of rare-earth metals has been found in Japan


Half the reason we had to post this headline is because the word “semi-infinite” was used. What is “semi-infinite”?

We get what it means of course. There’s just a massive pile of the stuff. But “semi-infinite”. I like it. It’s very Star Trek.

The discovery is an interesting development as China has dominated rare earth mining for many years. Such materials are vital to the manufacture of electronics. That Japan just found a treasure trove of iPhone makins’ right off its coast is a good thing for Japan, and probably the rest of the world.

(From CNBC)

The materials sit in a roughly 965-square-mile Pacific Ocean seabed near Minamitorishima Island, which is located 1,150 miles southeast of Tokyo, according to the study published in Nature Publishing Group’s Scientific Reports.

Rare-earth metals are crucial in the making of high-tech products such as electric vehicles, mobile phones and batteries, and the world has relied on China for almost all of its rare-earth material.

The seabed contains more than 16 million tons of rare-earth oxides, according to the study. That’s equivalent to 780 years’ worth of yttrium supply, 620 years of europium, 420 years of terbium and 730 years of dysprosium, it added.

The discovery “has the potential to supply these metals on a semi-infinite basis to the world,” the study said.