Recent discoveries of rare earth minerals at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean could break China's existing monopoly on supply of the vital raw materials.
Katie Hamann reporting for Australia Network News writes that the new discoveries off the coast of Japan and in the Pacific Ocean will be a source of major interest for mining companies seeking to break the Chinese strangehold.
According to the report the new discoveries represent a rich vein of potential supply:
Among the more recent discoveries of deep-sea rare earth deposits was several thousand kilometres off the coast of Tokyo, within Japan's exclusive economic zone.
By one estimate it could hold as much as 6.8 million tons of rare earths, which could supply Japan's consumer electronics and hybrid car industries for more than 200 years.
Large concentrations were also found in areas of the eastern South Pacific and near Hawaii.
Any alternative sources of rare earth minerals are particularly vital at present, given the Chinese government's recent decision to commence amassing strategic stockpiles in anticipation of future demand.