Extraordinary rare earth deposit discovered in Zhejiang

15:55, March 30, 2011      

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The Zhejiang Provincial First Geological Team has discovered a mammoth scandium-polymetallic deposit in northwestern Zhejiang that has proven scandium reserves of 70 tons worth about 70 billion yuan, according to an announcement made by the Zhejiang Provincial Geology and Exploration Bureau on March 29.

The rare earth deposit contains 17 types of metallic elements. Of them, scandium is mainly used in national defense, spaceflight, nuclear power, superconductor and other cutting-edge technological sectors and is one of the elements included in national strategic reserves.

Yang Xiaochun, head engineer of the Zhejiang Provincial First Geological Team, said that the market price for scandium is normally four times higher than that of gold and at one point in history it was 10 times more valuable.

The deposit is also accompanied by a large-scale silver-polymetallic deposit with 800 tons of silver and 130,000 tons of lead and zinc. The silver-polymetallic deposit contains 3,000 tons of cadmium, which is equivalent to the reserves of a large-scale cadmium deposit. The were also medium-scale deposits found containing 7,000 tons of tin, 400 tons of gallium and 5.5 tons of rhenium.

This was the first time to discover not only an enormous scandium deposit in China but also so many types of precious, non-ferrous and rare metals all with reserves above a certain scale in the same deposit.

These rare earth metals are all highly priced. The market price for tin stands at about 200,000 yuan per ton. The market price for gallium is similar to that of sliver, standing at about 6 million yuan per ton. The price for rhenium is 60 million yuan per ton, which is 10 times higher than that of silver.

By Li Jia, People's Daily Online

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