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People's Daily Online>>China Business

China ready to reconstruct rare earth industry

By Zuo Ya (People's Daily)

14:36, April 10, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

China set up a rare earth association on April 8. It was a state-level industry association initiated by 13 industry giants such as China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, Aluminum Corporation of China, China Minmetals Corporation, and China Nonferrous Metal Mining (Group) Company, and launched in association with 142 other Chinese companies in the rare earth sector.

Su Bo, vice minister of industry and information technology, said at the founding ceremony that China’s regulation of the rare earth sector will focus on restoring order in the sector, implementing stricter rare earth environmental policies and checks, quickening the establishment of large rare earth conglomerates, reinforcing legal construction for the industry, and promoting the sector’s structural adjustment and upgrading.

China’s rare earth output dropped 15 percent last year due to government crackdown on illegal mining. The rare earth industry will continue to eliminate highly polluting and outdated production capacity, and promote mergers among small and medium-sized companies. “It will take a long time to achieve the goal of forming a rare earth industry structure led by major companies and consolidating more than 80 percent of the country’s rare earth mining assets into three largest rare earth ion producers in southern China," said Gan Yong, the first president of the rare earth industry association and vice president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

“At present, the country is examining the capability and market performance of major rare earth companies. Rare earth prices should be determined by market forces, and the industry will help improve the rare earth pricing mechanism,” Gan added.

With 36 percent of the world's proven rare earth reserves, China now produces more than 90 percent of the world's rare earth supplies. The country’s rare earth industry used to develop in a scattered and disorderly fashion, and now faces many problems, including rampant illegal mining, excessive production capacity, ecological destruction, serious waste of resources, lagging behind in high-end applications of rare earth minerals, and disorderly exports.

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