In 2014, we created the “Consortium for Promotion of REY-rich mud Development” (the linked website is in Japanese only). This consortium aims to contribute to the stable supply of rare earth elements and to stimulate Japanese industry through the development of new demand for rare earth elements by establishing development technologies for REY-rich mud in cooperation with members from industry, government, and academia. At present, more than 30 leading Japanese companies, governmental organizations, and research institutions are working together toward the world’s first development of deep seafloor mineral resources. Subcommittees of the consortium are dealing with technological issues for resource exploration, environmental monitoring, mining and raising the mud slurry from the deep seafloor, beneficiation and smelting, residue treatment, and development of new materials using rare earth elements. We are investigating an optimum solution for the REY-rich mud development system based on our research achievements.

Relationship to the Japan’s resource policy

The achievements of our research on REY-rich mud have been highly valued by the Japanese government. The promotion of research and development technologies for REY-rich mud has been included in major national policies such as the “Basic Plan on Ocean Policy”, “Japan Revitalization Strategy”, and Japan’s “Growth Strategy”. Furthermore, the development of the technology to mine and recover REY-rich mud from the deep seafloor is a key issue for the “Development of Innovative Technologies for Exploration of Deep Sea Resources” under the Cabinet Office’s “Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program, Phase 2 (SIP2)” since 2018.