Japan to survey “giant rare earth deposits”

Japan to survey “giant rare earth deposits”

A Japanese marine science organization will begin a full-fledged survey this month on mud containing rare earth elements off Minami-Torishima , one of the Ogasawara Islands, to determine where the elements are.

In June 2012, a research team led by University of Tokyo Prof. Yasuhiro Kato confirmed large, highly concentrated deposits of rare earth elements, including dysprosium, in the seafloor mud near the island.

It was the first time rare earth elements were found within Japan's exclusive economic zone, but details such as the amount contained in the mud are unknown.

But according to previous report, the rare earth deposits could equal at least 220 times the country's annual consumption.

The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) plans to carry out a sampling survey in the EEZ around Minami-Torishima Island from Jan. 21 to Jan. 31, using the deep ocean research vessel Kairei.

The agency will survey the thickness of the mud on the seafloor using artificial seismic waves to acquire data to estimate the quantities of the resource, and obtain mud with a machine that can extract mud from 20 meters below the seafloor.

After two or three months of analysis the agency will submit the data to the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and others.
The data could help shape the Japanese government's resource development strategy.