Researchers from Japan have discovered vast quantities of rare earth deposits on the floor of the Pacific Ocean that might challenge the dominance of China as world's leading provider.
A report by the British journal, Nature Geoscience mentions that deep-sea mud in the eastern South and central North Pacific Ocean contains high concentrations of rare earth elements and the metal yttrium which are vital for green energy technologies and novel electric equipments.
We estimate that an area of just one square kilometre, surrounding one of the sampling sites, could provide one-fifth of the current annual world consumption of these elements, says Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo and the team-leader of the research.
The minerals were found at a depth of about 3500-6000 metres below the surface of the Pacific.
This new finding could alter the entire dynamics of the global rare-earth market due to the current high prices and tight supplies of these elements. China, which is regarded as the leader of rare-earth deposits produces almost 97 percent of the world supply.
All of the world's heavy rare earths (such as dysprosium) come from Chinese rare earth sources such as the polymetallic Bayan Obo deposit.