Japanese scientists detailed their analysis of the deposits Monday, claiming the area around Hawaii is especially rich in minerals such as gadolinium, lutetium, terbium and dysprosium, which are used in the manufacture of 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. 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.
The minerals found in the Pacific, however, might reinforce known land supply by 1,000 times, threatening China’s monopoly.
“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 an interview with The Guardian.