Govt mulls tighter rare earth production standards

09:05, November 09, 2010      

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The nation may further tighten environmental standards for rare earth production.

  Chinese authorities are mulling tightening pollution standards for rare earth miners, industry insiders at a rare earth production base in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region said.

  "We heard the new standards will be strict, which will force uncompetitive miners out of the industry," said Zhang Zhong, general manager of north China's Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-earth (Group) Hi-tech Co., Ltd., the country's biggest rare earth producer.

  Zhang said the new regulation will increase the cost of rare earth production and may raise the price of Chinese rare earth exports.

  Yang Wanxi, a government advisor involved in the new regulation's drafting, said the new standards are aimed to force producers to upgrade production techniques.

  For example, experts said the permissible content of the pollutant ammonia nitrogen per liter of production waste water will be lowered to 15 mg from the current 25 mg, said Yang, a rare earth expert with the government of Baotou City.

  He said the experts also suggested the government consider eliminating producers whose annual production capacity is less than 8,000 tonnes of mixed rare earth products.

  Yang said that the draft regulation has been filed to the Ministry of Industry and Information.

  Rare earth elements are important for the manufacture of high-tech products, but mining rare earth damages the environment.

  The guidelines aim to cut the number of rare earth firms from the current 90 to 20 by 2015.

Source: Global Times


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