ANN/JAPAN NEWS – Extracting rare earths from mud in the seabed 6,000 metres undersea is being considered by the government.
Domestic procurement of such mineral resources, which are essential for the production of electronic devices, is important for the nation to break its dependence on imports of rare earths from China.
In 2012, rare-earth mud was found in the seabed of the exclusive economic zone around Minami-Torishima Island of Tokyo’s Ogasawara Islands. The amount of rare-earth reserves around the island is estimated to be equivalent to several hundred years of domestic consumption.
The government will begin technological development in the next fiscal year to establish an extraction method for the resources.
Within five years, exploratory extraction will be conducted, with plans to establish efficient rare-earth extraction and production methods.
One aim is to create an environment that will allow private enterprises to enter the field from fiscal 2028. Related expenses will be included in the second supplementary budget for fiscal 2022. Extraction will make use of technology successfully tested off the coast of Ibaraki Prefecture early this year as part of a project run by the Cabinet Office.
The test involved the deep earth exploration vessel Chikyu of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC).