Mining is feasible and effective – only way to ensure supply.
Hays 14 (Brooks Hays, United Press International, “Deep sea rocks may be future source for rare earth metals”, 4/17/14, http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2014/04/17/Deep-sea-rocks-may-be-future-source-for-rare-earth-metals/3931397694393/)
In recent years, economists and geologists have begun worrying that the world's supply of rare earth metals will be outpaced by demand, driving up the prices of materials vital to the production of popular electronics like the iPhone and Blackberry. But a new study, published this week in the journal Applied Geochemistry, suggests humans could extract rare earth metals from the solid nodes of iron and manganese found strewn across much of the deep ocean floor. Rare earth elements, or rare earth metals -- including scandium, yttrium, praseodymium and dysprosium -- are a group of 17 naturally occurring elements on the periodic table that share similar chemical properties. They're used to make a variety of household products like florescent light bulbs and color TVs, as well as larger technologies like solar panels and wind turbines. Rare earth metals aren't as rare as their name lets on, but they are hard to come by, as they are widely dispersed amidst the Earth's crust and rarely found in large deposits the way other minerals are. Thus, they take a lot of effort to mine. For these reasons -- and others -- some worry increasing global demand for electronic technologies like smart phones could put rising pressure on the rare earth metals industry. That would be bad news for everyone but China, where 90 percent of the world's rare earth metal extraction currently takes place. However, new research by geochemists at Jacobs University in Germany has revealed a promising technique for extracting, or leaching, rare earth metals from ferromanganese deposits on the ocean floor. "Our pilot work on selective extraction of high-tech metals from marine ferromanganese nodules and crusts," the study's authors wrote, "showed that specific metal-binding organic ligands may have promising potential in future processing technologies of these oxide deposits." Apple, maker of the iPhone, and other tech manufacturers are surely hopeful that these German geochemists are onto to something. If not, they could be forking over larger sums of money to Chinese mining companies in the near future. As Thomas Graedel, professor of geology and industrial ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, recently said: “I’m not worried that we’ll run out of rare earth metals, but will we have enough energy at a reasonable price to extract it?”
New deposits are easily extractable and demolish the Chinese monopoly.
Kurien 11 (Denny Kurien, WSJ, “Rare-Earth Minerals Are Found on Pacific Ocean Floor”, 7/5/11, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304760604576425230759407002)
Japanese explorers have found large deposits of rare-earth minerals on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, British journal Nature Geoscience reported. While the discovery has the potential to alter the dynamics of the global market for the metals, the difficulty of extracting the minerals from the sea floor present a big challenge. The Japanese team found deep-sea mud containing high concentrations of rare-earth elements and yttrium at numerous sites throughout the southeastern and north-central parts of the Pacific Ocean, the journal said in its online edition over the weekend. "We estimate that an area of just one square kilometer [0.39 square mile], surrounding one of the sampling sites, could provide one-fifth of the current annual world consumption of these elements," team leader Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth sciences at Tokyo University, said in the report. Rare-earth minerals are used in a variety of high-technology products such as electronics, magnets and batteries used in hybrid automobiles and mobile phones. The minerals are recoverable from the mud by acid leaching, making deep-sea mud a highly promising and potentially huge resource for these elements. The Japanese team estimated the size of the discovery at around 80 billion to 100 billion metric tons (88 billion to 101 billion short tons), nearly a thousand times more than current proven reserves of 110 million tons as estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey. Those proven reserves are mostly in China, Russia and the U.S. But China is by far the biggest miner of rare-earth minerals on a commercial scale, making it a dominant supplier with around 95% of the global market. Recent moves by Beijing to restrict exports of rare-earth materials have pushed prices of these minerals up around tenfold from a year ago, spurring searches for alternative sources of supply.
New and effective refiniries being built now.
Moore 13 (Tracy A. Moore, CEO & President, CREC, http://www.canadarareearth.com/article/canada-rare-earth-corp-identifies-rare-earth-refinery-development-site-in-the-united-states-110.asp)
Canada Rare Earth Corp. (“CREC” or the “Company”) (TSX.V: LL) is pleased to announce that it has entered into a letter of intent (“LOI”) for the acquisition of its initial site for a rare earth refinery in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. A location in North America is viewed by CREC as critical to providing stable supply of rare earths to businesses and industries in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The site is comprised of approximately 100 acres and has excellent infrastructure with readily available power, water, and robust transportation infrastructure. The LOI also includes a right of first refusal to acquire two adjacent land parcels, which are each subject to separate option agreements. The site is zoned for heavy industrial use and is associated with some existing permits for heavy industrial use that will likely need some adaptation. Our preliminary assessment of the location is that it is ideally suited for a rare earth refinery and provides flexibility due to its size, location and characteristics. Our corporate strategy is to establish a vertically integrated rare earth business with multiple refineries in strategic locations. We envision full spectrum (light and heavy) rare earth refineries in as many as five separate countries with combined annual capacity of 15,000 metric tons of separated rare earth oxides. Locations under consideration include North America, four countries in Southeast Asia, two countries in the Caribbean, several in the middle east, and eastern Europe.