Ocean waters surrounding Hawaii rich in ‘rare earth’ minerals used for iPad

Yasuhiro Kato and a team of scientific researchers from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology have discovered large deposits of “rare earth” minerals in the sea floor around Hawaii. These “rare earth” minerals are an important component for many of the world’s most popular hi-tech electronics, including the iPad, flat screen TV’s and smartphones.The State of Hawaii will not directly benefit from this incredible find of minerals because they have been found in international waters. This discovery is monumental given that China currently supplies the world with 97% of “rare earth” minerals. What makes the discovery even more significant is that the minerals are not hard to extract. Unlike costly deep sea oil drilling, they will be able to pump up sea mud from depths of 10,000 to 18,000 feet to a ship that can extract the minerals with a simple acid leaching process. According to the science journal Nature Geoscience (which published the report today), the oceanic areas that seem to be richest in “rare earth” materials are around Hawaii and Tahiti. The ocean around Hawaii has long been rich with diverse fish and coral, now it seems that these remote volcanic islands are poised to help feed the world’s appetite for electronics.

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