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IPFS News Link • Japan

Japan To Extract Rare Earths From Seabed Starting 2024

•, by Naveen Anthrapully

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.

"Japan will curb excessive dependence on specific countries, carry forward next-generation semiconductor development and manufacturing bases, and secure stable supply for critical goods, including rare earths," Japan's most recent National Security Strategy states, according to Nikkei Asia.

Between August and September, researchers succeeded in pumping out mud deposits from a depth of 2,470 meters. In its second supplementary budget for fiscal 2022, the Japanese national legislature approved 6 billion yen ($44 million) for research and development into extracting rare earths.