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The world's insatiable demand for the rare-earth elements needed to make almost all technological gadgets could one day be partially met by sea-floor mining, hints an assessment of the Pacific Ocean's resources. But accessing the treasure trove of key elements on the ocean floor will be very expensive and potentially harmful to sea-floor ecology.

In Nature Geoscience this week1, Yasuhiro Kato, a geosystem engineer at the University of Tokyo, and his colleagues catalogue some hotspots of rare-earth accumulation on the bed of the Pacific. They estimate that a 1-square-kilometre area around the site that has the highest concentration of the elements in its mud holds a cache equivalent to one-fifth of current annual demand — about the same yield as a small mine on land.

The oceans are in a seriously degraded condition as it is.  Undersea mining could be the last straw.  To read the rest of the article, click here.
Category: Science