Japan plans on beginning the extraction of rare earth metals from the region around Minamitorishima Island in 2024 as the country attempts to wean away from depending on China for critical resources.
Work on developing extraction technologies for the endeavor will begin next year. The rare earth-rich mud is located on a seafloor at a depth of 6,000 meters. As such, Tokyo has to first develop technologies to extract at such depths. Deep-sea
mining faces several technical hurdles. Unlike oil and gas which gush out from a hole, mud needs to be taken out using methods like pumping.
Rare earths refer to 17 rare metals essential in modern components like semiconductors, electric motors, solar panels, etc. At present, Japan imports almost all its rare metals, with China accounting for 60 percent of the supply….