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Huge rare earth deposits found in deep-sea mud in Pacific

Tokyo: Around 1,000 times more rare earth elements than the world`s land reserves lie in deep-sea mud in the central and southeastern Pacific Ocean, a Japanese research team has reported in the online edition of British science magazine Nature Geoscience.

The elements, found in the seabed at a depth of 3,500 to 6,000 metres, are relatively easy to collect although it remains uncertain how much it would cost.

The team said, "The REY (rare earth elements and yttrium)-rich mud in the Pacific Ocean may constitute a highly promising REY resource for the future."

The report was co-authored by Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo, and eight other researchers.

High concentrations of rare earths were discovered in an 8.8 million square kilometre area encompassing Hawaii Island and another 2.4 million sq.km area around Tahiti, according to the report.

China supplies more than 90 per cent of the world`s rare earth minerals and Japan is greatly dependent on the neighboring country for supplies of the strategically important resources, which are used in the production of high-tech items.

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