A huge deposit of “rare earth” minerals has been discovered on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, Reuters reports.
Japanese scientists announced their analysis of the deposits Monday, claiming the area around Hawaii is especially rich in minerals that help build iPads, LCD TVs and other electronic devices.
Prior to this discovery, manufacturers and environmentalists alike expressed concern over the limited and dwindling supply of rare earth minerals. However, experts report that the minerals found in the Pacific may reinforce known land supply by 1,000 times.
The mud is rich in rare earth minerals like gadolinium, lutetium, terbium and dysprosium, which are especially important in the manufacturing of technology like hybrid cars and flat screens. China, which currently produces 97% of the world’s rare earth metals, has at times threatened to cut exports of the materials, leading to fear that the prices of electronic devices could soar.
Now, China’s near monopoly is threatened as scientists say that ocean bed extraction from this particular region should be relatively simple using acid leaching techniques.
“The deposits have a heavy concentration of rare earths. Just one sq km (0.4 sq mile) of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption,” Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth science at the University of Tokyo, said in a Guardian.co.uk interview.