How the mud in this small Japanese island could change the global economy

By AJ Willingham, CNN

A small island in the Pacific Ocean is the site of a huge discovery that could change Japan’s economic future. How huge? One economist called it a “game changer.” The researchers who helped find it said it had “tremendous potential.”

It’s mud. A whole bunch of mud — an estimated 16 million tons, to be exact. And in that mud, there are massive, “semi-infinite” stores of valuable rare earth minerals.
Rare earth minerals contain rare earth elements (located here on the periodic table) that are used in high-tech devices like smartphones, missile systems, radar devices and hybrid vehicles. For instance, yttrium, one of the metals included in this recent discovery, can be used to makecamera lenses, superconductors and cell phone screens.