China finds a potential rare earth reserve in the Himalayas.

The discovery was made by Chinese scientists who employed artificial intelligence to determine the chemical makeup of rocks.

As per the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Chinese scientists have found enormous potential supplies of rare earth minerals in the Himalayas, which might strengthen their position as the world’s top supplier. The deposits, which are dispersed over a 1,000 km long land stretch in the Tibetan plateau, were found by experts from China University of Geosciences in Wuhan using artificial intelligence (AI), the outlet added. But given how far away they are, it might be difficult and take years to harvest these minerals.

According to the SCMP story, China has been developing an AI system since 2020 under the direction of Zuo Renguang and his team. They created the AI-based approach to search through unprocessed satellite data and find fresh rare earth deposits.

In the next 15 to 20 years, it is anticipated that China’s demand for bulk mineral resources including iron, copper, aluminum, coal, and cement that sustain industrialization and urbanization will drastically fall. According to the Chinese publication, Professor Zuo predicted that rare earth would become the primary focus of mining in peer-reviewed research that was just published in the journal Earth Science Frontiers in Chinese.

“Rare earth metals are irreplaceable in arising industries such as new materials, new energy, defense and military technology, and information technology, making them a key strategic mineral resource in global competition,” he said 

Researchers in the nation now think the finding will tip the scales in China’s favor.

The publication cited industry data to claim that China’s percentage of world reserves decreased from 43 percent in the 1980s and 1990s to 36.7% in 2021. Outside of China, rare earth resources also experienced tremendous expansion, more than doubling within the same time frame.

Rare earth minerals now play a significant role in a wide range of applications, from energy to defense, thanks to the rapid advancement of technology.

The AI system created by China was trained to recognize light-colored granite that may contain lithium as well as rare-earth minerals like niobium and tantalum, which are essential for producing electric vehicles.

Geologists in China discovered this type of granite all across Mount Everest, the Himalayas, but they were unable to consider mining it until recently.

They started working on creating the new AI tool after unintentionally finding lithium and rare earth minerals in certain rock specimens from Tibet about ten years ago.

The device had a 60% accuracy rating at first. However, when the research team included data on the chemical make-up of rocks, the AI tool’s exactness rose to 90%, according to SCMP.

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