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Japanese scientists have found vast reserves of rare earth metals on the Pacific seabed that can be mined cheaply, a discovery that may break the Chinese monopoly on a crucial raw material needed in hi-tech industries and advanced weapons systems. 
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Geological survey in rare metal study in Sutherland

Geologists hope to better understand the formation of rare metals in Scotland amid rising demand for them for energy devices and mobile phones.
Metals such as tungsten and cobalt are imported from abroad and are not currently mined in the UK.
British Geological Survey (BGS) is examining how rare earths were formed near Tongue in north Sutherland, but not how they could be exploited.

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Experts Skeptical about Potential of Rare-Earth Elements in Seafloor Mud

There in the mud, just waiting to be scooped up, is a natural resource deposit potentially worth billions and billions of dollars. It contains chemical elements needed by automakers, by manufacturers of consumer electronics and by green technology developers - elements for which China currently holds a global near monopoly.
The catch? The mud, which is enriched in the technologically crucial metals known as the rare-earth elements, is beneath thousands of meters of water in the Pacific Ocean.

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Rare-earth metals
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Japan finds rare earths in Pacific seabed

Japanese researchers say they have discovered vast deposits of rare earth minerals, used in many hi-tech appliances, in the seabed.
The geologists estimate that there are about a 100bn tons of the rare elements in the mud of the Pacific Ocean floor.
At present, China produces 97% of the world's rare earth metals.
Analysts say the Pacific discovery could challenge China's dominance, if recovering the minerals from the seabed proves commercially viable.

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Rare earth element
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As defined by IUPAC, rare earth elements or rare earth metals are a collection of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table, namely scandium, yttrium, and the fifteen lanthanides. Scandium and yttrium are considered rare earth elements since they tend to occur in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides and exhibit similar chemical properties.
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