A team of Japanese researchers have discovered new rare earth minerals at a mountain in Ise in Mie Prefecture. The mineral, called Vanadoallanite-(La) contains lanthanum, a kind of rare earth, and vanadium, a rare metal. The International Mineralogical Association’s Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification confirmed their discovery as a new mineral last March 1.
The team is composed of researchers from Yamaguchi University, Ehime University and the University of Tokyo. One of the members said that there are many things that are still mysterious about rare earths. Scientists still do not completely understand how they are distributed in nature and which of the many minerals actually contain them. What is known is that these “play an important role in advanced industrial technologies” and therefore, these are important to Japan’s future.
Researchers from Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and the University of Tokyo said that rare earths are essential in the manufacturing of Japan’s cutting-edge technologies. China has a monopoly on these minerals and given the current relations with them, Japan has to find a way to find a secure and stable supply of the minerals. The recent discovery of a possible rich source of minerals on the Pacific seabed would be of great benefit to Japanese manufacturers. Scientists believe the deposit has 6.8 million tons of rare earths, which will last Japan for the next 230 years and if properly extracted, will end the country’s reliance on China for these materials.
[ via Jiji Press ]