Japan discovered an underwater trove of precious metals that may supply the world 4 times over. The Hustle Fri, Apr 13 Brought to you by The Neat Company… whip your expenses into shape. Underwater, Japan discovers enough rare metal to supply the world for 400+ years On the floor of the Pacific Ocean, Japanese scientists […]
April 13, 2018
Japan discovered an underwater trove of precious metals that may supply the world 4 times over.
Underwater, Japan discovers enough rare metal to supply the world for 400+ years
On the floor of the Pacific Ocean, Japanese scientists discovered a 965-square-mile mud patch containing 16m tons of rare-earth metals -- enough to meet global demand “on a semi-infinite basis.”
And we’re not talking gold doubloons here. This sunken treasure includes materials vital to smartphones and electric cars -- and positions Japan to challenge China’s control over the rare-earth industry.
You can’t always borrow a cup of yttrium from your neighbor...
To bake up its primary exports (electronics and cars), Japan needs rare-earth metals. Lacking its own deposits, Japan has always had to go across the sea to borrow ingredients from China’s precious-metal pantry.
But in 2010, China drastically reduced its export quota for the 17 rare-earth metals -- driving their price up 10x. Panicked by the price hike, Japan jumped into the ocean with a metal detector and a dream.
From magic mud to pricy product
Scanning their “exclusive economic zone” (an oceanic area of proprietary resource rights), Japan found mud that was chock full of yttrium, europium, terbium, and dysprosium -- but couldn’t use it yet.
Turns out, pouring raw mud into the hood of a Tesla isn’t enough to make it run. Japan had to extract and synthesize the precious particles, and it didn’t take long for Japanese scientists to design a “hydrocyclone separator” to separate the good from the gritty.
A new chapter in the saga of mineral-mania
China, the only producer with reserves and the expensive industrial machinery to process them, has historically held the mineral market in a chokehold. Even after competition rose to meet demand, China’s market-share only slid from 93% to 86%.
Brazil, Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have had the reserves without processing power, while the US, Japan and Western Europe have had processing capacity without reserves -- until now.
Japan’s huge reserve, backed by the modern-day alchemy to process it, will end China’s virtual mineral-monopoly. After the announcement, stock prices at Japan’s largest drilling company jumped 13%.
Atlantis is a Toshiba battery
Danone, the massive yogurt company, just became the largest B Corp in the world
It’s official, folks: The company that makes Dannon yogurt has become a certified B Corp, making it the largest socially driven company in the world.
B Whuuut? A B Corp certification measures and reports a company’s environmental and social performance, from carbon emissions to diversity, giving companies that pass muster a new legal status.
Danone was already a public benefit corporation -- a legal status that requires companies to set goals beyond profit and consider stakeholders, not just shareholders, when making decisions.
Yes, the maker of Danimals
Long before acquiring organic, plant-based food giant WhiteWave, Danone already had their sights on rebuilding consumer trust in big food.
Danone scored an 84.9 out of 200 in the grueling B Corp certification test conducted by nonprofit B Labs, whose founder reported the average score (of 70k companies assessed) sits in the “low 50s.”
There are other well-known B Corps companies -- such as Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s -- but Danone is the largest by far, with $6B in revenue.
So if they’re so great, what steps are they taking?
It’s worth noting that their score is far from perfect and, according to Fast Company, some critics feel the assessment may miss some of the company’s issues.
With that said, Danone does encourage sustainability in many significant ways -- buying renewable energy production facilities, replenishing streams, and spending $6m to learn how dairy farmers can strengthen soil health.
SoftBank plays ball with $25B plan to globalize FIFA's Club World Cup
According to the Financial Times, Japan’s SoftBank has joined a consortium of investors backing a plan to create global soccer tournaments for FIFA (the sport’s governing body) and solidify soccer’s place as the most popular sport on the planet.
The current Club World Cup is held every year with 7 teams from around the world -- the new tournament, to be played every 4 years, would include 24 teams starting in 2021, introduce another national team competition held every 2 years, and reportedly guarantee revenues of $25B a year.
Who’s a part of this mysterious “consortium”
Outside of SoftBank, little is know about the identities of the other investors. According to FT’s sources, it includes investors from China, Saudi Arabia, the US, and United Arab Emirates.
The institution’s financial situation has been precarious after falling to corruption and bribery back in 2015, and posting a $369m loss in 2016. But FIFA’s new prez wants to change the way they run things -- outsourcing their competition to a third party and taking a 51% stake.
The New York Times (which first reported the offer) says that the FIFA Council has requested more info on the proposal -- but, currently, the Club World Cup is worth less than $100m, so half of $25B ain’t lookin’ too bad.
White Castle moves into the future with Impossible Foods’ meatless burger
After 97 years selling beef, the cult flavorite fast food chain has added Impossible Foods’ plant-based Impossible Burgers to its menu.
Most notably, as a substitute to put on their world famous sliders -- a product Time magazine once called “the most influential burger of all time” -- in 140 of its 340 locations.
They finally found their new *ssssssssssss*
In 2014, Forbeswrote a piece about White Castle “searching for new sizzle,” and assuming that all goes well with the new wheat, coconut oil, and potato-based product, this could be the ticket.
In sticking to the same frozen-patty delight that has attracted fans for nearly 100 years, the 4th-generation family-owned burger royalty has, like most fast food chains, endured the pitfalls of nostalgia, long ignoring the shift in what people now wish to shove into their mouth-holes -- quality over quantity.
Over the last few years, fast food chains have gone through a reckoning of epic proportions and, amidst a newfound devotion to healthier menu options, White Castle’s move to attract a new generation of customers is nothing unique.
That said, they are attacking it from a different angle. According to Quartz, the deal with Impossible Foods makes White Castle the first American “quick-serve” restaurant to serve the plant-based patty, and if all goes well, the chain says it will expand the offering to all of their locations.