TOKYO (Reuters) - Vast deposits of rare earth minerals, crucial in making high-tech electronic products, have been found on the floor of the Pacific Ocean and can be readily extracted, Japanese scientists said on Monday.
Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo, gave no estimate of when extraction of the minerals from the seabed might start, but said the deposits may be 1,000 times those on land.
Here is a list of global reserves of rare earths confirmed by the U.S. Geological Survey in comparison with estimated reserves found by the Japanese scientists in the Pacific seabed.
Rare earth reserves on land (in metric tons):
China 55 mln
CIS 19 mln
U.S. 13 mln
Australia 1.6 mln
India 3.1 mln
Others 22 mln
Total 110 mln
Source: U.S. Geological Survey
Rare earth reserves in seabed: (in metric tons)
Pacific seabed 80-100 bln
Source: Estimate by Yasuhiro Kato, associate professor at Tokyo University
Reporting by Yuko Inoue; Editing by Joseph Radford