Japan surveys seabed for rare earths

Japan is launching another survey in the hopes of uncovering more rare earths deposits on the sea floor.

Japan is launching another survey in the hopes of uncovering more rare earths deposits on the sea floor.

In 2011 it was reported Japanese scientists had discovered a massive potential seabed rare earths deposit 1000 times larger than those on land, which was estimated to be as large as 100 billion tonnes.

It came only months after the nation changed it resources laws to allow for mining of the seabed as part of the Japanese Government’s plan to increase control of natural resources within the seabed inside of its exclusive economic zone.

Now researchers from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology will again begin surveying later this month, according to the ABC.

It comes amidst heated debate over the future of rare earth minerals, which are increasingly used in hybrid cars and other green technology.

Currently China controls close to 95% of the world's supply and has recently reduced its output, choking much of the production of high end technology in Korea and Japan.

However China is not the only country aggressively seeking to expand its rare earths resources; the US and Russia have similar policies; the only difference is that China is leading the race.

This is set to change after Australian miner Lynas announced the ramp up of rare earth processing at its plant in Malaysia.

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