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PostPosted: Jul 04, 2011 12:41 pm 
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Joined: Jul 28, 2008 5:01 am
Posts: 462
Location: Teesside, UK
Some Japanese researchers have found a lot of rare earths at the bottom of the ocean. They report details in Nature Geosciences. Looks like thousands of km^2 of ocean floor with high RE concentration, estimated total 80-100 billion tonnes, according to the BBC report. On the other hand Techmetals Research says the resource estimates are pure rumour, and any exploitation uneconomic. Reuters says the U/Th content is 1/5th the usual proportion, but I can't find a figure. Th in Monazite is ~7%, so say it's 1% here, ~1 billion tonnes if the resource rumours have some basis in fact after all.


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PostPosted: Jul 05, 2011 11:18 am 
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Joined: Mar 07, 2007 11:02 am
Posts: 914
Location: Ottawa
That story has got plenty of traction on the internet. The fact is rare earths are not very rare, mainly just quite expensive and potentially messy to process. And regardless of their huge importance in high tech devices are only a 1 to 2 billion dollar a year industry with a refinery costing upwards of a billion. The story seems to imply that the ocean bottom muds are easy to refine, if that is true then they may have something but I doubt that's the case. Good luck making an economic case for pulling material up from kilometers below the ocean surface.

David L.


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