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Japan 'rare earth' haul sparks hopes of cutting China reliance
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
The discovery of potentially millions of tons of valuable "rare earth" elements in sea sludge off Japan has raised hopes that Asia's number-two economy can reduce its dependence on Chinese supply. A Japanese study published last week revealed an estimated 16 million tons of rare earths, enough to feed global demand on a "semi-infinite" basis, with deposits to last hundreds of years. The news made headlines internationally and in Japan, which is the world's second-largest consumer of these minerals but relies heavily on imports from China, which controls 90 percent of the highly strategic market. read more
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