Int'l cooperation urgent on rare earth production beyond China

17:25, December 28, 2010      

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China's mineral industry is calling for "two-way" international cooperation on jointly developing rare earth resources outside China to intensify and diversify the global supply of rare earth.

According to the China Securities Journal, Xu Xu, president of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters, denied the report that a new agency would negotiate on China's rare earth export quota with other countries. He noted that it is China's sovereign right to make its export quota and therefore there should be no such negotiations.

But the international cooperation is necessary. The organization will make that call to other countries with the rare earth resources.

The "two-way cooperation" could refer to both the source of the rare earth supply and the processing technology. China has the mature technology of rare earth smelting, which will help overseas production of rare earth, according to Xu.

The report says that China has already imported some 10,000 tons of raw rare earth from Vietnam and Malaysia this year.

The Ministry of Commerce of China has also urged multinationals and developed countries to transfer their advanced technologies "at a reasonable price" to help China produce rare earth in a more environmental friendly way.

Zhang Anwen, deputy secretary-general of the China Society of Rare Earths, said that he did not expect a sharp fluctuation of rare earth prices, or any big changes in China's rare earth export policy.

However, Zhang also thinks minor adjustment should be made on export quota when necessary.

Statistics by China's Ministry of Commerce show that China had exported 6.3 percent more rare earth over the first nine months than the quota set for the whole year. The chamber predicts that the prices could be higher next year driven by the price increase in the global resource products,

Some countries have recently accused China of controlling the world rare earth supply by export restriction. Xu refuted that as groundless. Over the nine years from 2001 to 2009, China exported some 60,000 tons of rare earth annually.

The excessive mining and disordered competition in the rare earth industry in recent years have not only resulted in a considerable reduction of China's rare earth reserves but also caused enormous ecological damage in production places. China has repeatedly stressed that its restrictions on the mining, processing, consumption and export of rare earth will help protect the environment and nonrenewable natural resources, and they are in line with the WTO rules.

The Ministry of Finance has raised export tariffs of some rare earth products and the Ministry of Commerce is making the rare earth quota for 2011.

China holds one-third of the world's rare earth reserve but makes 90 percent of the world's rare earth export. That burden is too heavy for China, according to the chamber.

By Li Jia, People’s Daily Online
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