Government sets rare earth export quotas
Updated: 2011-12-28 10:07
BEIJING - China has set the first tranche of rare earth export quotas for 2012 at 10,546 metric tons, the Ministry of Commerce said on Tuesday.
Rare earth exports waiting to be loaded at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province. China accounts for more than 95 percent of the world's output of the 17 rare earth metals, which are used in the electronics, defense and renewable energy industries. [Photo/China Daily]
The ministry said the first tranche only included export quotas for those enterprises that have passed stringent environmental inspections.
Quotas have been reserved for other firms - including China's biggest producer, Baotou Steel Rare-Earth Hi-tech Co - but will be released only if they are found to have complied with regulations.
The ministry said that overall export quotas for the whole of 2012 would be unchanged from 2011 "to guarantee international market demand and keep rare earth supplies basically stable".
The full-year quota for 2011 was 30,184 tons. However, actual exports totaled only 14,750 tons in the first 11 months amid a nationwide inspection and crackdown on illegal activities in the sector.
China accounts for more than 95 percent of the world's output of the 17 rare earth metals, which are used in the electronics, defense and renewable energy industries.
It has been cracking down on illegal producers and traders since August, aiming to bring the sector under the control of a handful of enterprises.
China's attempts to restrict output and exports have caused alarm overseas, but the government has said that its attempts to impose order on the sector were primarily motivated by environmental concerns and were in compliance with World Trade Organization rules.
Analysts have said that the nation's policies are also meant to give priority of supply to domestic consumers and encourage foreign consumers - mostly from high-technology strategic sectors - to relocate their operations to China.
China also set the first tranche of export quotas for coke in 2012 at 4.24 million metric tons on Tuesday, the commerce ministry said. The total quota for 2011 was 8.42 million metric tons, issued in two tranches over the year.
China is the world's largest producer of coke, which is used in steel production, but it has begun to restrict coke exports as part of an effort to cut pollution.
The government has imposed a 40 percent duty on coke exports, which has contributed to falling exports in recent years.
Coke and semi-coke exports in the first 11 months of 2011 stood at 3.2 million metric tons, up 6.59 percent year-on-year, according to customs figures.
The Ministry of Commerce also said that the first tranche of silver export quotas in 2012 would amount to 3,232 metric tons. Export quotas for tin and tin products were set at 10,800 metric tons.
The first batch of 2012 export quotas for indium was set at 139,000 kg.
China is the world's largest producer of indium, a vital component in the manufacture of flat-screen TVs and computer monitors, accounting for almost three-quarters of world reserves and about half of output.
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