Japanese scientists are planning to start searching for rare earth deposits on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, in order to make Japan less dependent on China’s resources used for industrial materials.
Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology will launch a probe in the Pacific Ocean on January 21. The probe will explore the underwater surroundings of Minamitorishima Island, around 2,000 kilometers southeast of Tokyo.
The project aims to continue the earlier work of Professor Yashuiro Kato of Tokyo University, who studied the mineral composition of the mud from the area and indicated that around 6.8 million tones of rare earth minerals could be found on the seabed. If that will prove to be true, it would be enough minerals to supply Japan’s consumer electronics and hybrid car engine needs for more than 220 years, the international press reports.
At the moment, Japan is determined to discover and start using a reliable source of rare earth minerals, due to the fact that China has the monopoly on the mineral supplies and that the countries still struggle in a territorial conflict over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. China provides over 90% of the world’s supply of rare earths.