China announces shakeup of rare earths industry
China plans to tighten control over rare earths producers and restrict output in a five-year development strategy, amid concern abroad about plans to reduce exports of the exotic minerals used in high-tech goods.
Beijing: China plans to tighten control over
rare earths producers and restrict output in a five-year
development strategy, the Cabinet said today, amid concern
abroad about plans to reduce exports of the exotic minerals
used in high-tech goods.
A Cabinet statement promised to "reasonably set annual
quotas for production and export" but gave no details. It said
the government will tighten environmental controls and block
China accounts for almost all production of rare earths,
a group of 17 minerals that are used in products such as
flatscreen TVs and lightweight batteries for mobile phones and
It announced in 2009 that it would reduce exports in what
appears to be an effort by Beijing to transform China from a
bulk supplier of raw ores into a producer of higher-value
lightweight magnets and other products.
Today`s statement said Beijing will encourage mergers to
create more technologically advanced Chinese rare earths
producers. It promised to encourage development of technology
to create rare earths products.
China will "establish healthy development of the rare
earths industry with appropriate development, orderly
production, high utilisation and technological advancement,"
the Cabinet said on its website.
The United States, Canada and Australia have rare earths
but stopped mining them in the 1990s as lower-cost Chinese
supplies became available. China has about 30 per cent of rare
earths deposits but accounts for about 97 per cent of
Foreign manufacturers were alarmed when Beijing
temporarily blocked rare earths shipments to Japan last year
after a Chinese fishing boat captain was detained near
China`s Commerce Ministry said exports of rare earths
rose 14.5 per cent in the first 11 months of last year over
the same time a year earlier despite the decision to reduce
The ministry gave no explanation of why the government`s
quota was exceeded.
Surging global demand earths has prompted companies in
the US and Australia to start work on developing or reopening
rare earths mines.