tech

Japanese researchers map 'semi-infinite' rare earth reserves

10 Comments
By Josep Lago

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© 2018 AFP

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

10 Comments
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@Scrotum - you need to invest in a pair of glasses, as it says Nokia on the Phone....

You are right (about me needing some new glasses). I got all excited because I thought it was a picture of the new clamshell iPhone everyone is talking about, but now I see it is a Nokia I couldn't care less.

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@Scrotum - you need to invest in a pair of glasses, as it says Nokia on the Phone....

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The news is OTT. I can atest (insider information) the concentrations of those rear earths are still very low (we are talking ppm here). Also the depth is a problem - technologically it will pass quite long time to start anything industrial. . Agree that in first place Japan have to concentrate on recycling the enormous 'digital' waste. Of course research has to continue and this is priority for the state but it is too early to get enthusiastic...

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Is that the new iPhone 11 in the picture?

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This article exemplifies why I read Japan Today, and web sites like it. There are often informative, important articles to be found that are not presented on my local information sources. The information in this article is important.

The article talks about mining mud, but I have often wondered if the geode-like minerals to be found ubiquitously at undersea fumaroles would not be worth recovering. The minerals have already been concentrated by mother-Earth, and could seemingly be recovered without massively disturbing the sea life near the fumaroles. Robotic arms could place the minerals into baskets, which could be floated up to the surface. The gas needed to float the baskets could be generated electrolytically, with the power supplied by the robot submersible. The technology for powering submersibles with nuclear energy has already been demonstrated.

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 China mines them with little if any regulations protecting the workers or the environment. This makes the materials from China so inexpensive

I saw this some years ago, when I check out China to source marble and granite. Both were way cheaper that anywhere else, but there was little regulation on mining. Open strip mining, toxic waste and byproducts dumped where they can affect crops and drinking water, dangerous and abusive working conditions for miners... Buying it would have been contributing to a crime. That said, there were plenty of buyers.

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Recycling Cry is a great ideal however, recycling has proven its incapable of keeping up with the Demands. The world is a Tech hungry monster that devoures everything in its path, I.e. the drain on its rare elements to meet that demand.

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The reason China dominates the market isn't because there aren't other known places to mine the resources. It is because China mines them with little if any regulations protecting the workers or the environment. This makes the materials from China so inexpensive, relative to what any other country with metal reserves can produce, that it is impossible for other countries to compete.

If rare earth exports from China were required to meet just basic environmental rules then other countries could and would compete in the market.

This is also why Chinese products tend to dominate in the renewable energy sector (PV panels, etc.), because most of these products also use rare earth metals.

This is an older article, but the situation hasn't change much in the last 6 years.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/aug/07/china-rare-earth-village-pollution

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@Reckless - I agree and actually recycling has become ubiquitous in the electronics industry. Europe has led the way and even has standards and directives (such as RoHS) to eliminate the use of toxic/hazardous materials in electronics manufacturing with the intention of further facilitating recycling. However when the materials are recycled or attempts are made to recapture the materials the efficiency is quite low however research and development is occurring to improve the ability to recapture these materials.

Not perfect at all yet but big strides are being made.

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How about recycling first before tearing up the seabed?

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