Japan Discovers 200 Years' Supply of Rare Earth

For two years, the world was worried about a possible rare earth shock triggered by the crafty Chinese. Since they are withholding the dirt that’s essential for magnets, motors, and generators, an electrified world will be on its knees – or so the theory went.

The opposite happened. Right when everybody was ready to blame the high prices of EVs and hybrids on the Chinese, prices of rare earths crashed. Small miners went belly-up. And now, shockers of shockers, The Nikkei [sub] says that Japan found 200 years’ worth of rare earth near an island. Even bigger shocker:

The island is not on the China side of Japan, it’s in the Pacific.

About 300km (186 miles) off the coast of Minamitori Island, high concentrations of rare earths were found, including dysprosium, used to enhance the performance of motor magnets. Two small problems: The rare earth is at a depth of 5,600 meters (18,400 feet). The island itself is more than 1,000 miles away from Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean. However, the island and all the islands of the chain are Japanese, as a matter of fact, the islands count as a part of Tokyo. Minamitori itself is the size of a small airport, actually, that’s all it is.

Last year, rare-earth deposits were discovered in international waters. This is the first time a possible deposit has been found in Japanese waters, and it is in waters the Chinese don’t claim as their own. After WWII, the island was under U.S. control until 1968, when it reverted back to Japan.


  • Al Bunzel

    Why is being 1000 miles from Tokyo a problem?

    Also, are there any plans to sustainably mine this resource?

  • Capt. Concernicus

    Good for Japan. This will be good for the rest of us if this deposit is as large as it is claimed to be. I’d rather be dependent on Japan for these rare earth deposits than the Chinese. At least the Japanese are our greatest and best allies in the Pacific and probably one of the top three allies the U.S. has in the world.

  • Anonymous

    Orbite Aluminae in Quebec, Canada will be flooding the world market with Rare Earths both light & heavy and Rare Metals with their unique technological process to extract these minerals as byproducts from massive clay deposits targeting High Purity Alumina & Smelter Grade Aluminae but more importantly they have now successfully proven their process also eliminates Toxic Red Mud Tailings Ponds that are produced from Alumina miners around the world using the Outdated “Bayer Process” at a rate of 120 million tons per year while extracting all the stranded rare earths and escaped alumina.
    Their process extracts 99% of the “to date, unrecoverable rare earths”
    The global adoption of the Orbite Process replacing the 120 year old Bayer process will revolutionize the industry & bring the price of rare earths & metals downwards, making REE projects like the one on this Japanese island and many many more around the world uneconomic , and if & when these projects do move ahead, they will do so using the Orbite process.
    They are on schedule to be the first producer of REE’s in North America this September, and the best part is they are a publicly traded company on the Toronto stock exchange…wink…wink!!!!
    BEYE1