State-planned rare earth mining zones aim for sustainable use, environmental protection: Chinese official

10:27, February 11, 2011      

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China's decision to set up its first group of rare earth mining zones with state planning is aimed at protecting resources as well as the environment, an official with the Ministry of Land and Resources told Xinhua Thursday.

The ministry announced last month the establishment of 11 state-planned rare earth mining zones in Ganzhou Prefecture of east China's Jiangxi Province, an area rich in ion-absorbed-type rare earth.

The 11 mining zones have a combined area of 2,500 square kilometers, with rare earth reserves estimated at 760,000 tonnes.

The ministry also designated two state-planned iron mining zones in Panzhihua, western Sichuan Province. The two iron mining zones have an area of 460 square kilometers.

The official, who requested anonymity, said mining of rare earth metal is destructive to the woods, soil and farmland. The waste released after mining also damages the environment, he said.

The current mining and supplies are unsustainable, the official said.

"To set up state-planned mines is out of consideration for protection of the resources and the environment," the source said.

China, the world's largest rare earth producer and exporter, provides more than 90 percent of the global rare earth demand, though its reserves account for one third of the world's total rare-earth reserves.

The Ministry of Commerce said last month that China exported 35,000 tonnes of rare earth from January to November last year, up 14.5 percent from one year earlier.

Source: Global Times
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