It's been reported that soaring demand for rare earth metals will likely drive prices way up. This concept of demand = increased prices is supported by numerous individuals and firms. First, there's the report from Metal-Pages, which indicates that the price of neodymium, an element used in electric motors, doubled in 2010. Then there's Robert Bryce, author of Power Hungry, who indicates that "prices will gyrate upward, adding cost to any automaker building hybrids." Finally, Roskill Consulting states that demand for rare earth metals will outstrip supply within four years, leading to exorbitant prices. Needless to say, the idea that rare earth prices will soar is a theory supported by many.
Fortunately, researchers in Japan have discovered vast amounts of rare earth-rich mud in the Pacific Ocean. This discovery could keep prices of rare earth metals in check. The research group, led by Yasuhiro Kato, associate processor at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Engineering, found that the amount of rare earth metals in sample areas of the Pacific Ocean is approximately 1,000 times more than the amount that exists on land.
The newly-found rare earth-rich mud is unique in that it hardly contains any radioactive elements and, despite being some 11,500 feet below the water's surface, is claimed to be easy to mine using existing technologies. However, there seems to be one issue: the rare earth-rich mud is in international waters, which means that any country interested in mining the area will need to gain approval from the International Seabed Authority. Hat tip to David!
[Source: Tech On]