From Chinese Press

Regulate rare earth industry

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-10-20 07:56
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China's regulation of its rare earth industry is in strict accord with international standards and World Trade Organization rules, says an article in People's Daily. Excerpts:

Rare earths, scarce and non-renewable, have become increasingly essential in new energy technologies and national security applications. Having one-third of the world's rare earth reserve, China accounts for more than 90 percent of the world supply. In the long run, China's rare earth reserve can hardly sustain the world's demand.

Besides, early unrestrained exploitation of rare earth has resulted in a series of environmental problems, and China's low prices for its rare earth elements have plagued the development of its rare earth industry. For a sustainable development model, China has more than enough reason to curb excessive mining of its rare earth resources and has thus reduced its export quotas.

According to a latest US report, the United States, Russia and Australia, which together make up 37 percent of the world's reserve, made zero contribution to world production in the same year, while having their own reserves "frozen" and resorting to China's supply of cheap rare earth elements.

Quite a few countries import rare earth elements not for immediate use but for stockpiling. Japan is one of them. Japan, the world's largest rare earth importer, has hardly any rare earth reserves.It has been importing rare earth elements of high quality at a rather cheap price from China during the past decade. Some experts estimate that Japan's current rare earth stockpile can see it through several decades, but Japan is still trying hard to obtain more.

However, China is definitely not giving in. Every country can determine how to use its own resources. China has long been burdened with the world's demand for rare earth, and it is time to readjust policies for a sustainable development of Chinese rare earth industry.

(China Daily 10/20/2010 page9)