South Korea announced today that they have identified rare earth deposits in the eastern Gangwon province, a discovery that helps ease concerns over China’s virtual monopoly of rare earth deposits.
While the exact amount found in South Korea is unknown, what is known is that 97% of the world’s rare earth output is from China, a statistic that has many worried, especially as the country is using their surplus as a means of political power, regularly green- and red-lighting its production at will.
“We have to get ready to be self-sufficient in case China strengthens its control over (rare earth) exports,” a KORES spokesman said in a Reuters report.
Rare earth deposits are vital for batteries, magnets, lasers, hybrid cars, wind energy technologies, and other clean energy products, which is why the world is hoping that additional deposits surface elsewhere.
South Korea’s deposits were found while mining for iron and exploration of the source will continue this week.