Over the 4th of July weekend, reports about a group of Japanese scientists who have discovered significant rare earth deposits on the seabed of the Pacific Ocean have made quite a splash, leading some to talk about a challenge to China’s rare earth near-total monopoly.
ARPN expert Gareth Hatch cautions that while the research is certainly impressive, he doubts mining on the seabed will be commercially exploitable. Scientists have compared REE concentrations below the Pacific Ocean to those at one ionic clay mine currently in operation in China, where extraction of REEs is economically viable because they are relatively easy to access.
However, as Hatch told Nature News:
That is not true for mud located below four or five kilometers [2.5 or three miles] of water, which would require expensive ship time and equipment to pull up. People talk about mining on the asteroids or the moon. This isn’t that hard, but it’s similar … There are better options.
For more about Hatch’s take on this most recent REE discovery, read his post on his website http://www.techmetalsresearch.com, where he asks: Is Someone Manipulating The Story About Rare Earths Under The Pacific Ocean?