A recent discovery of rare earth minerals off the coast of Japan could render China’s recent threats to curb exports useless.
Deep-sea mud within Japan’s exclusive economic zone is riddled with ‘rare-earth elements and yttrium’ (REY) that could supply the world on a “semi-infinite basis,” according to a study on the region.
“The research area was estimated to be able to supply Y [yttrium], Eu [europium], Tb [terbium], and Dy [dysprosium] for 780, 620, 420, and 730 years, respectively, and has the potential to supply these metals on a semi-infinite basis to the world,” says the study.
Simply put, the 16-million ton deep-sea stockpile is capable of providing the planet with rare ingredients for centuries.
“Applications of REY span a wide range, including hybrid vehicles, rechargeable batteries, wind turbines, light emitting diodes, compact fluorescent lamps, screen display panels, and many medical and military technologies,” says researcher Yutaro Takaya.
The celebrated finding lies off the coast of Minamitori Island, over a thousand miles southeast of Tokyo where Japan has exclusive rights to the resources found there.
Interestingly enough, President Trump just met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan in a visit that showed off the “unshakable Japan-U.S. alliance,” according to local media.
“[Abe] is now widely seen as one of the only — if not the only — foreign leaders who can speak comfortably with Trump,” reports Japan Times.
Before entering the trade war, Trump likely knew – as many experts did – that China’s ‘nuclear option’ would be to weaponize its rare earths by cutting exports of the commodities.
Trump moved ahead regardless, fueling speculation that alongside Sumo wrestling tournaments and golf, he and Abe discussed bilateral trade which may have included talks about rare earth minerals.
“[The Japanese] are brilliant business people, brilliant negotiators and have put us in a tough spot but I think we will have a deal with Japan,” Trump said.
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