Goodbye Rare Earth Minerals, Hello Not So Rare Underwater Minerals: Vast ___ Oxide Deposit Discovered In Pacific Seabed

Tyler Durden's picture

Two weeks ago we demonstrated what happens to prices of so-called "rare" earth minerals, which are almost exclusively controlled by China, and whose exports China recently decided to cut to a mere trickle, resulting in a 10+ fold increase in some of the most rare minerals in under a month. It also has allowed the third R bubble to persist as long as it has. It appears that the bubble is about to pop big time. According to Nikkei, "Vast deposits of rare earth minerals have been discovered on the seabed of the Pacific Ocean amounting to 1,000 times those on land, media reported on Monday citing a study by Japanese researchers." Of course, this could merely be one of those not quite definitive discoveries, which end up being disproven eventually, but which serve to merely pop a temporary speculative bubble. Just like the IEA. In the meantime, it may be time to temporarily erase the Rare from Rare Earth Minerals, and change Earth to Underwater.

Reuters has more:

The deposits are estimated to amount to 100 billion metric tons, the Nikkei business daily said.

They are believed to lie at a depth of 3,500 to 6,000 meters and cover an area of over 11 million square meters, the reports said.

China, which produces 97 percent of global rare earth supplies, has been tightening trade in the strategic metal, which is used in high-tech electronics, magnets and batteries, causing concerns globally about supply and triggering jumps in prices.

The study by researchers from the University of Tokyo and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology is to be published on Monday in the online edition of the British science magazine Nature Geoscience, the reports said.

Japan's imports of rare earths from China fell 3 percent in May from April, the first month-on-month drop in three months, as the price of the metal surged, Japan's finance ministry said last month.

Demand could pick up later in the year as Japan continues to recover from the March 11 earthquake.

To those who say that this is very much like the US announcing there has been a record discovery of crude oil under the Marriner Eccles building, we would say you are spot on. But then again for the Japanese "recovery" scenario to proceed as expected, the prices of the commodities on the charts below have to drop by about 90% if the global economy has to have any chance of returning to a growth trendline. Otherwise, this may be yet another insurmountable bottleneck for the propaganda upside case courtesy of China.

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GoinFawr's picture

Hunh. Arrrrr any idea which REE's we's talkin' 'bout? Oh I hear there's lots of gold in seawater too m8ie, or even just lying around on the bottom of the briny deeps, harrrr:

Davey Jones, whatchew be hidin' in that locker, scurvy dog that y'harrr.

DaveyJones's picture

Shhhhhh. The Japanese have had enough bad luck with seawater

zuuuueri's picture

there's probably plenty of cesium there for the taking... 

falak pema's picture

Polynodules... Old story... being resuscitated. The french got interested in this 40 years ago...then it went dead... I wonder...

Solid's picture

There elements, not minerals!

Vlad Tepid's picture

Now If I can just get down there with my $5 shovel...

Misean's picture

China is restricting the export of said shovels.

Big Corked Boots's picture

For a moment there I thought you were going to tell us it costs only $5 to dig it out of the ground... or out of the seafloor...

francis_sawyer's picture


Jamie & Lloyd went "short" MCP & REMX on the Friday close...

Anonymouse's picture

Two thoughts:

- Resurrection of the "Law of the Sea Treaty" / huge source of power and income for the UN

- Naval superiority / naval warfare may be the word of the day

Manthong's picture

Yes, naval superiority.

We have the technology and armaments to overcome the Reigo problem.

GoldmanSux's picture

More like short hedge funds planting a load of crap on a Sunday night when markets are closed Monday, but the stocks trade in Canada.

slow_roast's picture

Do these Rare Earths in the ocean happen to lie about 100 yards offshore from the Fukishima plant? 

Sabibaby's picture

Some of those Rare Earths off the shore of Fukushima are actually "Not Of This Earths"

Sudden Debt's picture

You can all buy them on Ebay.

I've even seen a Child Urine sample in a plastic bottle THAT GLOWS IN THE DARK FOR THE NEXT 5000 YEARS! FOR ONLY 2.99$ !!!

Boston's picture

Speaking of discoveries in Asia, how about this one:


Radioactive Cesium Is Found in Tokyo Water

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Don't worry. It's transitory. It's always transitory......even when it isn't.

Stuck on Zero's picture

No problem.  It's quite efficiently filtered out of the water and concentrated in kidneys and livers.

chumbawamba's picture

Some minerals in the water supply never killed anyone.  Free vitamins!

I am Chumbawamba.

zhandax's picture

Life is won't care about any of this shit once you are dead.

oldman's picture

Dear zhandax

That is a real 'do-nothing' point of view if I have ever heard one.

It is also one of the thoughts that has crossed my mind

But there are so many of them that it requires too much energy to focus upon one except the thought of 100 40-year planned life nuclear plants reaching their 40th birthday

But I suppose I'm just an old 'leftie', tree-hugging, eco-nut piece of shit

Oh, well---------------------------------------------

jse111's picture

Well folks the good news is that Cesium 137's half life of 30-years is far less than Plutonium 239's half life of 24100 years.  The bad news is that a 30-year half life of an ingested radioactive substance in any significant quantity is potentially a death sentence.

Additionally, the greater Tokyo metropolitan area holds in general terms 25% of Japan's total population.  Furthermore, the demographics of Tokyo are markedly younger than Japan's mean age calculation.  Younger individuals are progressively more sensitive to radiation's devastating effects than the Weekend at Bernie's set.

For those that suggested early on that the entire island required evacuation, you appear far less histrionic as this catastrophic incident develops.  Lastly, Arnie Gundersen has reported that technology to rid ground water of radiation contamination does not currently exist and likely will not for at least 10-years and probably longer.

I am not expert enough to offer remedial suggestions other than departure while still able appears prudent in context.  I sincerely wish I could do more.

Why must it be this way!


Oh regional Indian's picture

Excellent points jse.

As one of the early histericalists, i feel horribly vindicated. And this is when the "truth" is still really deeply hidden.

Why must it be this way?

Cycles. Plain and simple and irresistable.


Escapeclaws's picture

No, not cycles, but this:

The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft'intered in their bones.

alexdg's picture

The good news is that this is actually old news, so part of that half-life has already passed by, only 24100 years minus 2 weekes to go!

donpaulo's picture

basically 70% of Japanese live on 30% of the land.


They have also found radioactive contamination in things like new concrete, sewage and in Shizuoka green tea which is over 150 Km SW from Tokyo.

They are also finding children's uric acid at higher than normal rates from what they consume. Namely green leafy veggies, mushrooms and root veggies.

Escapeclaws's picture

It's time they switch over to cheese doodles and MacDonalds. There's a reason the US is number 1, and that's our diet.

oldman's picture

Where am I going to run to when the rest of these 40 year-old nuclear plants with a 40 year life start to come apart?

This is still the big story of the century or-----well, who knows how long?

Fire, wind, rain, snow, earthquakes, operator error, bad materials, etc. to the unknown-----I'm fascinated by the universe's idea of justice

VyseLegendaire's picture

Right.  So Japan is gonna go fetch these with its non-existant robotics and offshore drilling capabilities.  Laff.

snowball777's picture

Yeah, because they've never come up the learning curve faster than any nation in history or anything.


VyseLegendaire's picture

Japan once was a nation capable of that.  Now, generations of wealth has been squandered and the nation's posterity has little to show for it than the government's ubiquitous conceit.

I don't see Japan overcoming its current woes without developing some real sense of unity in overthrowing their entrenched kleptocracy, like with the US.

Where is Japan's new Boshin War?

Vlad Tepid's picture

The same place the original Boshin War was in 1850...not yet fomented.  Whether Dan-no-Ura, Sekigahara, Boshin, or Nagasaki, Japan has to let it get black hole-level dark before it starts to look for a sunrise.  Apparently, it's not bad enough (yet).

snowball777's picture

"We estimate that an area of just one square kilometre, surrounding one of the sampling sites, could provide one-fifth of the current annual world consumption of these elements."

A reprieve from the sun and 200k years worth of REMs...don't squander this monkeys.


kito's picture

lets hope they dont make the same find with new homes that are "under water". it will really sink the housing market.

tmosley's picture

lol, and how are they planning to mine the sea floor?  I would have thought that everyone knew that the seafloor was extremely rich in many different types of minerals, but we just don't have the technology to mine there.  But then, maybe we could call the guys from the Deep Core, and their pals ( to give us a hand.

francis_sawyer's picture

We probably know more about the lunar surface (not to mention that, & this point, VOYAGER must be somewhere between the Kuiper Belt & the Oort Cloud) than we kno about the seafloor (nevermind what's under it)...

We'd probably need some "unobtanium" to find out (but as the case may be - it's an effin' RARE EARTH)...




Milestones's picture

Hey! Perfect spot for B.P. Look at all the great experience they have at this deep water stuff.   Milestones

Baptiste Say's picture

Commision a drill ship, drill down, cement a casing and inject salt water (of which there is clearly plenty given you are on the ocean) which will force REM ore to the surface, collect, ship onshore, process, sell...


Obviously not viable for heavier minerals but for high value-weight ratio samples like rare earth metals it probably is.

francis_sawyer's picture

Don't worry... Sean Corrigan has your back (he thinks it's going to $26 - tho u nee to use your secret spy cryptographical DECODER ring to figure it out)...

sabra1's picture

since that bin laden guy is down there, maybe he can verify this find!

Escapeclaws's picture

Full fathom five bin Laden lies...

nonclaim's picture

Rare earths were never rare as in "hard to find" but in "hard to separate" from the minerals it is in. Since China does not care about work conditions or environmental impacts they could offer huge amounts at very low cost and did it to put everybody else out of work. Then they tried to drive the price up, which killed their only advantage... while making clear you cannot rely on them as the sole supplier...

It is good to find this deposit but there's plenty of sources on land, always cheaper to mine, waiting for a reasonable price to make it worth the investment.

Yen Cross's picture

 That was a "Very astute comment" nonclaim. And also very accurate!   +1

francis_sawyer's picture

Aww fuck...

& I just got busy dusting off my 1970's ROCK TUMBLER thinking I was going to strike it rich!

Urban Roman's picture

Now if the seabed would be so good as to sort all those -dymiums into separate piles for us...

DaveyJones's picture

And greatly reduce its pressure