Sunday, October 9, 2011

Another new rare earths discovery, this time in Afghanistan

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the waters.
(Psalm 24:1-2)

Man may explore it, learn its contours, manipulate its seasons, propose theories about it, change the daylight time, but in the end, the earth is the Lord's. He knows what is on it and what is in it.

For example I wrote in December 2010 of a situation that was worrying the people and corporations making electronics. China has cornered the market in rare earths metals, which are necessary for making computer chips and the like. As their name implies, they are rare and they have to be dug out from the earth. At that time, China manufactured 93% of all rare earth metals, and could essentially hold the rest of the world hostage to a myriad of daily necessities. Try finding something these days that doesn't have a chip in it...

Seven months later, in July 2011, a stunning discovery was made in shallow waters off Japan. In an article entitled, "Pacific Ocean Mud Holds a Wealth of Suddenly Not-So-Rare Earth Minerals" scientists wrote, "Vast deposits of rare earth minerals, crucial in making high-tech electronics products, have been found on the floor of the Pacific Ocean and can be readily extracted, Japanese scientists said on Monday. ... “Just one square kilometer (0.4 square mile) of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption."

Instantly, the Chinese market was crushed.

Then this week, another rare earths discovery was made, Scientific American reports, "Bounty of Rare Earths Discovered in Afghanistan." "Recent exploration of rare volcanic rocks in the rugged, dangerous desert of southern Afghanistan has identified world-class concentrations of rare earth elements, the prized group of raw materials that are essential in the manufacture of many modern technologies, from electric cars to solar panels. So far, geologists say, they have mapped one million metric tons of these critical elements, which include lanthanum, cerium and neodymium. That's enough to supply the world's rare earth needs for 10 years based on current consumption, points out Robert Tucker, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist who is the lead author on a report released on September 14."

The minerals have gone from rare to bounteous in the space of 10 months.

The earth is the Lord's.


1 comment:

  1. very interesting how they are all so useful to modern technology...

    ReplyDelete

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