Japan's Rare Earth Metals Find May Break China's Stranglehold on Our Gadgets

Looks like that skirmish between Japan and China last year over the neodymium and lanthanum required in the production of electronics has been resolved, now that Japan has stumbled over their own supplies in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.

China produces 90 per cent of the world's neodymium, and when arguments with Japan came to a head last year, the World Trade Organization had to step in. According to Japan, this new supply of the minerals will go far, with the University of Tokyo's associate professor Yasuhiro Kato commenting that "one sq km (0.4 sq mile) of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption."

With the deposits totalling up to 100bn tons, the minerals are buried around 3,500 to 6,000m below the water surface. We look forward to hearing that the minerals are to be pumped from the seabed as quickly as possible, helping production of our lifeblood (gadgets) along nicely. [Nature, The Guardian and Ars Technica]