Discovery Of Rare Metals ‘Worth £360 Billion’ On Tiny Island Could Change World
Recently-discovered rare metals found on a tiny Pacific island could potentially ‘change the world’.
The ‘almost infinite’ supply of metals found, with one being rare-earth oxide, is worth £359 billion – and could supply the economy for ‘decades’.
These rare elements have been discovered by Japanese scientists in deep-sea mud on Minami-Torishima Island, which is also known as Marcus Island.
A study published in the journal Scientific Reports, reported researchers found ‘more than 16 million tonnes of the elements needed to build hi-tech products’.
One of the metals found, yttrium, is used for camera lenses and mobile phone screens and, according to Science Alert, and is currently worth $3,400 per pound.
Rare-earth minerals are used in everything from ‘smartphone batteries to electric vehicles’.
These elements are actually plentiful in layers of the Earth’s crust, but are typically widely dispersed, therefore it is rare to find any substantial amount of the elements clumped together as extractable minerals, according to the USGS.
Rare-earth minerals can be formed by volcanic activity, and some were formed ‘initially by supernova explosions before Earth came into existence’.
When the planet formed, minerals were incorporated into the deepest parts of the planet’s mantle.
According to The Science Page, Jack Lifton, Technology Metals Research LLC founding principal told The Wall Street Journal ‘this is a game-changer for Japan’.
The race to develop these resources is well under way.
The findings suggest that a 2500sq km region off the southern Japanese island should contain 16 million tonnes of the valuable elements.
The report said some of the rare-earth elements found could be mined for hundreds of years, concluding it ‘has the potential to supply these metals on a semi-infinite basis to the world’.
Last year, the same journal posted two papers after the remains of a 300,000-year-old skeleton was discovered.
This predated the earliest known Homo sapien by around 100,000 years, in a place we didn’t expect.
The fossils could be the earliest ever found and if further evidence validates the suggestions made in the original two papers, they may well suggest our species has a different origin.
It all began a few decades ago, when a bunch of miners in Marrakesh stumbled upon a human skull – it resulted in further excavation of the area and discovery of fossils, which they theorised at the time were around 40,000 years old.
They had them pegged as Neanderthals – or other distant relatives of the Homo sapien – but further research actually found a much more monumental discovery.
The true origin of our species is uncertain and debated, with anthropologists having differing theories about where we really do come from.
Most experts believe humanity as we know it started in Africa, a few hundred thousand years ago, but that’s far from undisputed.
Especially now more evidence has surfaced, which challenges the whole idea.
Can you even begin to imagine what’s left out there in the Earth to be discovered?
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CreditsUSGS and 3 others
The Science Page