Massive seabed rare earth discovery off Japan reported

Japanese researchers this week reported what could be the largest find of rare earth deposits in history.

The excitement generated by the Japanese find is a reflection of the explosive demand for rare earth elements around the world, said John Shearer, president and CEO of clean mining technology developer Green Technology Solutions.

Rare earth minerals have multiple uses such as – iPhones, wind turbines, halogen lights, precision-guided missiles, computer disc drives, X-ray imaging and flat-screen televisions and in a number of other applications.

Currently, China dominates global production, providing more than 95 per cent of the world's supply.

''This huge discovery was made because shrinking exports from China in the face of growing demand has caused rare earth prices to skyrocket,'' Shearer said. ''There are legitimate concerns that demand will soon outstrip supply, but we believe we're close to providing a more economically viable solution by developing rare earth mines in Mongolia.''

Details of the discovery were published in the online version of the British journal, Nature Geoscience.