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The deposits are in international waters in an area stretching east and west of Hawaii, as well as east of Tahiti in French Polynesia. Rare Earths and Yttrium (ppm) over 1,500 1,000-1,500 700-1,000 400-700 250-400 under 250 Minerals were found in sea mud extracted from depths of 3,500 to 6,000 metres (11,500-20,000 ft) below the ocean surface at 78 locations.
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Vast deposits of rare earth minerals have been found on the ﬂoor of the Paciﬁc Ocean. Just one square kilometer (0.4 square miles) of deposits will be able to provide one-ﬁfth of the current global annual consumption.
Rare earth deposits
Rare earths allow for smaller, lighter components, and are now key to making handheld devices such as Apple’s iPhone.
Paci c Ocean
The sea m rich in h ud tested is esp eavier ra ecially as gadoli re nium, lut earths such and dysp etium, t manufac rosium, used to erbium LED (lighture ﬂat-screen T valves, a t-emitting diode Vs, nd hybrid ) cars.
Extracting the deposits requires pumping up material from the ocean ﬂoor Using simple acid leaching, 80-90% of rare earths from the mud can be extracted within a few hours.
Global rare earth production
80 kilotons 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 1950
Sources:Graphic News; Wikipedia
China produces over 97% of the world's rare earth supply, mostly in Inner Mongolia. Limited production in India and South Africa.
Up to 1948
Most of the world's rare earths were sourced from placer sand deposits in India and Brazil.
The Mountain Pass rare earth mine in California was the leading producer.
South Africa was the leading supplier.
1970 1980 1990 2000
Made up of 17 non-ferrous metals (no iron) on the periodic table: Symbol Name Use Sc Scandium Space components; mercury-vapour lamps Y Yttrium Lasers; superconductors; microwave ﬁlters La Lanthanum Glass; ﬂint; hydrogen storage; battery electrodes; camera lenses; ﬂuid catalytic cracking Ce Cerium Oxidizing; polishing powder; yellow colour; self-cleaning ovens; ﬂuid catalytic cracking Pr Praseodymium Magnets; lasers; carbon arc lighting; colouring; welding goggle glass; ﬂint Nd Neodymium Magnets; lasers; violet colour; ceramic capacitors Pm Promethium Nuclear batteries Sm Samarium Magnets; lasers; neutron capture Eu Europium Red and blue phosphors; lasers; mercury-vapour lamps Gd Gadolinium Magnets; glass; lasers; x-ray tubes; RAM; neutron capture Tb Terbium Green phosphors; lasers; ﬂuorescent lamps Dy Dysprosium Magnets; lasers Ho Holmium Lasers Er Erbium Lasers; vanadium steel Tm Thulium Portable x-ray machines Yb Ytterbium Lasers; reducing agent Lu Lutetium PET Scan detectors; glass
ANTHONY GREEN/QMI AGENCY