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Huge rare earth deposits found in Pacific: Japan experts

2011年 07月 4日 15:58 JST
 
  • Mixiチェック

A chronic shortage of rare earths, vital for making a range of high-technology electronics, magnets and batteries, has encouraged mining projects for them in recent years.

China, which accounts for 97 percent of global rare earth supplies, has been tightening trade in the strategic metals, sparking an explosion in prices.

Japan, which accounts for a third of global demand, has been stung badly, and has been looking to diversify its supply sources, particularly of heavy rare earths such as dysprosium used in magnets.

Kato said the sea mud was especially rich in heavier rare earths such as gadolinium, lutetium, terbium and dysprosium.

"These are used to manufacture flat-screen TVs, LED (light-emitting diode) valves, and hybrid cars," he said.

Extracting the deposits requires pumping up material from the ocean floor. "Sea mud can be brought up to ships and we can extract rare earths right there using simple acid leaching," he said.

"Using diluted acid, the process is fast, and within a few hours we can extract 80-90 percent of rare earths from the mud."

The team found that sites close to Hawaii and Tahiti were especially rich in rare earths, he said.

He gave no estimate of when extraction of the materials from the seabed might start.

(Reporting by El Tan in Hong Kong and Yuko Inoue in Tokyo; Editing by Michael Watson)

 
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アウシュビッツの「残像」

アウシュビッツ強制収容所の元収容者スーザン・ポラックさん(84)は、当時の体験について「逃れられない」と語る。
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<p>Marks made by an excavator is pictured at the old site of a rare earth metals mine on the outskirts of Longnan county, in Jiangxi Province October 27, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Lee</p>

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「逃れられない」過去

スーザン・ポラックさん(84)は列車で強制収容所へ移送された当時13歳。「母と兄と一緒だった。誰も何もしゃべらなかった。車内は暑くて息苦しく、悪臭が漂っていた」  記事の全文 | スライドショー 

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