Tuesday, July 05, 2011

There's Gold in Them There......Depths....

Gold perhaps, but more importantly metals like gadolinium, lutetium, terbium and dysprosium. Metals essential to the manufacture of high tech electronics.

China accounts for 97% of the worlds production. In 2009 China decided to reduce its level of export of these rare earth metals and in 2010 it reduced them again by 35%.

Japan on the other hand uses one third of the world's demand. This move by China put Japan in a difficult position. So looking for alternative sources Japan began exploring the ocean floor and what they found there was astounding! In international waters around Tahiti and Hawaii they found that more than a third of the samples brought up were testing positive for large amounts of the needful metals.

From the article:
  • The deposits have a heavy concentration of rare earths. Just (slightly under 1/2 square miles) of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption.
It has been estimated that the amount of rare earths contained in the deposits amounts to upwards of 100 billion tons! Extracting the rare elements from bottom mud would be a fairly simple acid leaching process that would only take a few hours.

Read more in the Dvice article here

pic is the GSF Explorer, formerly USNS Glomar Explorer wiki info here

No comments: